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Bakeiess^ John Edwin, X894- 

Turncoats, -trairGors^ and 
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OCT 15 1977 

NOV 9 


Other Books by John Bakeless 












John Bakeless 





* * 


After I had finished preliminary collection of material on the 
history of American military intelligence (in the Revolution 
and later) and just as I was about to begin the last four years 
of more intensive research, I was somewhat to my surprise- 
warned by a solicitous friend that the attempt was bound to 
fail, since most documents relating to secret service in the Revo- 
lution must certainly have been destroyed. Having already col- 
lected materials for nearly two decades and having learned the 
voluminous abundance of the Clinton Papers, I knew this view 
was needlessly pessimistic. I had, indeed, even then, located 
enough manuscript material to make a fairly adequate study, 
without the additional four-year search that I actually under- 

It was, nevertheless, a surprise to find, as the study pro- 
gressed, how embarrassingly abundant the supposedly lost 
documents really were. Eventually, as new spies, new facts, 
and new manuscripts revealed themselves, it became necessary 
to reduce the scope of the work five times, eliminating first, 
the story of British and American espionage overseas; then, 
the story of frontier espionage; then, the plotting and intrigue 
in New Hampshire and Vermont; and also American espionage 

4 Preface 

in Canadathe last being no great loss, since the work of these 
secret agents, though skilled and daring, never led to important 
military results. As a fifth and final limitation, I have dealt 
as briefly as possible with such facts as are already known about 
the intelligence services of the Continental and the British 
armies. Thus, the Arnold-Andre affair, which could not pos- 
sibly be omitted, has been briefly treated, with emphasis on 
its relation to other intelligence nets and the narrow margin 
by which American counter-intelligence failed to detect it. 

The book as it now stands is a study complete and thorough, 
I trust of the espionage, counter-espionage, and other military 
intelligence services in the Continental and British armies in 
the main theatre of war, with only a few absolutely essential 
references to military intelligence elsewhere. 

Though I have made an extensive search for new sources, 
with such good fortune that a large proportion of the material 
here discussed is wholly new, it is probable that further re- 
search will reveal many additional facts a desirable result, to 
which I hope these pages may in some degree contribute. The 
numerous debts I have incurred are listed elsewhere. It is, to 
my regret, difficult to express adequately all I have learned 
from many able and devoted colleagues in the American and 
British services, from friends in other Allied services, and even 
now that the war is over from some of my erstwhile op- 

Elbowroom Farm, 
Great Hill, 
Seymour, Conn. 


i The Case of the Dangerous Doctor 9 

ii The Secret Story Behind Lexington and Concord 24 

ni Captain Brown and Ensign De Berniere 37 

iv The Adventures of John Howe 55 

v The Paul Revere Gang 68 

vi Spies at the Siege of Boston 82 

vn Kidnaping George Washington 93 

vni Nathan Hale A Wasted Hero no 

ix Spy Catching on the Hudson 123 

x Spy Catchers Extraordinary 136 

xi General Howe's Spies 154 

xn The First Real Intelligence Nets 165 

xm The Cherry Tree Hero Tells Some Whoppers 184 

xiv The Miracles of Major Clark 196 

xv Spies in the Quaker City 206 


6 Contents 

xvi General Washington's Manhattan Project 222 

xvn More Manhattan Spies 238 

xvni The Exploits of Ann Bates 252 

xix General Clinton's Spies and Some Others 266 

xx Treason 281 

xxi The Mysterious Adventure of Sergeant Major 

Champe 302 

xxii Mutiny 318 

xxin Spies Before Yorktown 328 

xxiv Duping Sir Henry Clinton 345 

EPILOGUE: The Spies Go Safely Out of Business 359 

Acknowledgments 367 

Notes 37B 

Index 395 



* * * 

The Case of the Dangerous Doctor 

THERE WAS a sudden stir and bustle in Brattle Street. Lieuten- 
ant General George Washington, commanding the Continental 
Army, then engaged in siege operations against the city of Bos- 
ton, looked curiously through one of the windows at headquar- 
ters. They were the same windows through which Henry 
Wadsworth Longfellow would, in years to come, contemplate 
the River Charles; but, on a late September evening in 1775, 
the spectacle in Brattle Street was not poetic. General Wash- 
ington stared. The stern countenance, more marble than any 
of his busts, relaxed. The general burst into one of his rare fits 
of laughter. 

That chunky nay, positively rotundhero, Major General 
Israel Putnam, in full uniform, was clattering up to headquar- 
ters on horseback. The general was not really of the same di 
mension in all directions, but looked as if he might be, very 
soon. His was, in short, the kind of figure not at its best on 

General Putnam had ridden up to the Vassall House, which 
General Washington now occupied, in tremendous haste, with 
a female one cannot possibly say a lady riding pillion behind 
him. No man's dignity, not even a major general's, is enhanced 



when he appears, mounted, with a female on a pillion. The 
only way his passenger can keep her seat is to embrace the 
horseman in front of her and embrace him closely. A major 
general, riding publicly down Brattle Street, clasped tightly at 
the waist by a buxom wench, was a spectacle well, the troops 
must have enjoyed it! 

Worse still, General Putnam's passenger was a hussy of du- 
bious repute. That her sins were as scarlet did not worry any- 
body. The trouble was this hapless young creature had added 
to her transgressions the guilt of trying to communicate with 
certain gentlemen in Boston whose coats were just as scarlet as 
her sins the officers of the enemy. She had carried an en- 
ciphered letter, addressed to one of General Gage's staff officers. 

The reception Putnam's captive received was terrifying. 
From the head of the staircase, General Washington glared 
down. In his face there was no laughter now. Six feet tall, in 
blue and buff, he made an imposing figure. He did not wait to 
have the culprit formally brought before him. From his place 
high above the prisoner, he warned her grimly that "nothing 
but a full confession could save her from the halter." It was not 
the way this attractive young creature was usually received by 
the opposite sex. 

The commander-in-chief , who had been an examining magis- 
trate in Virginia, was on familiar ground. Were there tears, 
shrieks, feminine flutterings and protestations? Very likely. 

But all that was no use at headquarters. It took time. It 
took pressure. It took threats. As General Washington put it, 
"For a long time she was proof against every threat and per- 
swasion to discover the Author." Who wrote the letter? She 
wouldn't tell. What was in the letter? She hadn't read it. What 
was it about? She didn't know. Where was the cipher key? 
How could she guess it was ciphered? She hadn't opened it. 
So question and answer, thrust and parry, must have gone 
through a long and exhausting interrogation. 

The girl was told she had been carrying information to the 
enemy. There would be a terrible penalty. Her only hope was 
to tell all. She stood silent. How many hours the terrified 
creature squirmed under the inquisition, there is no telling. 

The Case of the Dangerous Doctor 11 

Probably it went on all night, until exhaustion began to tell at 
last and they broke her down. She gave a name. Dr. Benjamin 
Church, Jr., had given her the letter. The traitor was the rebel 
army's own director general of hospitals. 

Send out a guard and bring the doctor in! You could hardly 
condemn one of the foremost medical men in New England on 
the accusation of one loose wench. Still, the girl ought to know. 
She was the doctor's mistress. 

A reasonably alert counterintelligence would have been 
looking anxiously into the doctor's affairs long before this; for, 
though long undetected, he had been an appallingly careless 
secret agent. But the rebel army had no counterintelligence 
service. For many months, the doctor had been a paid British 
spy, reporting regularly to General Gage every move of the 
Massachusetts patriots, using his seat in the Provincial Con- 
gress to keep the British governor informed of its most secret 
plans. His espionage had begun months before the war broke 
out; but no one seriously suspected anything until after he gave 
his mistress the ciphered letter. 

That part of the story, General Washington never learned. 
It is doubtful if the doctor's light lady knew it herself. Only 
Doctor Church, General Gage, and a close-mouthed British 
staff officer or two were in the secret, which they kept so suc- 
cessfully that most of the sordid facts never came to light until 
a century and a half had passed. Yet, though the story, as Gen- 
eral Washington learned it, went back only a month or two, it 
was bad enough. 

Doctor Church had given the girl a sealed letter. Though she 
probably did not know it, the letter was in cipher. It was not 
a very good cipher. A modern cryptanalyst would laugh at it 
as several of them have. Exactly what the doctor told her, there 
is no way of knowing; but her actions show about what her in- 
structions must have been. 

Sometime in July or August, 1775, the girl arrived at the 
house of Godfrey Wenwood, who ran a bakery and bread shop 
on Bannister's Wharf, in Newport, Rhode Island. He was no 
ordinary baker, but a man with a reputation for "that celebrated 


article 'Wenwood's butter biscuits' the art of making which no 
man to this day knoweth." 

The pair were well, far too well, acquainted, for the lady 
and the bachelor baker had once shared idyllic hours of dalli- 
ance. All this in prim colonial Boston, or Cambridge. Whether 
the dalliance was renewed on this occasion has never been dis- 
covered. It is not very likely, for Wenwood was about to marry 
and settle down. The professional lady can hardly be said to 
have reformed, but she had more or less recovered her amateur 
standing. She was Doctor Church's property now; she was in 
Newport on his errand; and the doctor was a good meal ticket. 
Still, the doctor was at the moment far away in Cambridge mili- 
tary hospitals, and she definitely did want Wenwood to do her 
a favor. 

Would he arrange for her to see Captain Sir James Wallace, 
commanding H.M.S. Rose, then on station at or near Newport? 
Wenwood's bakery business gave him a convenient excuse for 
going aboard to arrange supplies. If he could not put her in 
touch with the naval officer, the girl wanted to see Charles Dud- 
ley, royal collector of customs. Or, if neither of these, then 
the Tory merchant and shipowner, George Rome, who was 
helping Captain Wallace supply the British garrison in Bos- 
ton, and who had long since begun to send General Gage "in- 
telligence of much importance/' which came "from the Rebel 
camp itself." 

Now, though Wenwood may not always have been a sterling 
exemplar of moral virtue, he was no Tory and no traitor. The 
girl can hardly have known how stanch a patriot he really was 
or she would not have gone to him in the first place; but their 
past relations had not been of a kind that involved political 

Wenwood did not like the sound of anything he heard. Be- 
sides it was embarrassing to have this creature in Newport at all. 
Amorous dalliance far away in Boston was one thing. Having 
his trollop turn up in Newport, where Wenwood was a re- 
spectable tradesman, was another matter. His bakery was in 
his basement. "In the rooms above that he often had as guests 
the best society of the town, whom he entertained with a 

The Case of the Dangerous Doctor 15 

princely hospitality" doubtless Including "butter biscuits," 
made from the secret recipe. Wenwood definitely did not feel 
his present female visitor would fit very well in "the best so- 
ciety" of Newport. 

Besides, his days of colonial flaming youth were over. He was 
about to marry "a young lady of great beauty and merit." He 
did marry her the following May. Newport was a small town. 
If someone saw him with this fancy lady! What if his two 
slaves gossiped? 

Why was this trollop so eager to meet the naval officer and 
these two prominent citizens, anyhow? He questioned the girl 
till she admitted that she had been given the letter in Cam- 
bridgeshe did not say by whom. She had been asked to give 
it to one of the three men she had named. It was to be sent on 
to the enemy in Boston; Wenwood could see that it was ad- 
dressed to a British officer there. 

What was likely to be in a letter addressed to a staff officer 
of the British Army, sent secretly through an officer of the 
Royal Navy or through a prominent Tory? Why this round- 
about way of getting it to Boston? The amorous baker, his 
ardor for the lady long since cooled, liked the story less and less, 
the more he heard of it. It all smelled of "some Traitor in our 
Army." In the end, he got rid of the girl by persuading her to 
entrust the letter to him, for later delivery. 

Left with the mysterious paper., the Newport baker puzzled 
over it for weeks, without opening it. After some time, he 
hunted up a friend of about his own age, the schoolmaster 
Adam Maxwell, who, the year before, had been keeping school 
in the front chamber of the Brick Market, not far from the 
bakery; and who was probably still there in 1775. Wenwood 
confided in the teacher, a stout patriot who had no compunc- 
tions. He broke the seal. He found three pages closely scrawled 
with mysterious characters. 

At this stage, both men should have headed for the nearest 
American Army officer or any official known to them as com- 
pletely loyal to the patriot cause. Instead, they put the mys- 
terious paper away. The wonder is they did not complete their 
folly by burning it. In that case, the story of Doctor Church's 


treason might still be as completely lost as the recipe for Wen- 
wood's butter biscuits; and Gage's best spy might have contin- 
ued his treachery throughout the Revolution. 

Perhaps it was Church himself who brought on the catas- 
trophe. Late in September, Wenwood received a letter from 
the doctor's mistress. It looks very much as if Church had vis- 
ited her for business or pleasure on her return to Cambridge; 
had discovered that the incriminating letter was not in safe 
hands; and, in his anxiety, had told his "miss" to make in- 
quiries. Washington's papers show that Doctor Church tried 
to resign as medical director on September 20, though he was 
under no suspicion, as yet. 

Now hopelessly involved in affairs too grave and dangerous 
for her rather feeble wits, the girl wrote her quondam lover: 

Dear Sir 

j now Sett Down to right afue Lines hoping thay will find 
[you] in good helth as thay Leave me jexpeted you would 
have arote to me be for this But now jexpet to Sea you 
hear every Day j much wonder you never Sent wot you 
promest to send jf you Did jnever reseve it so pray Lett 
me know By the first orpurtunty wen you expet to be hear 
& at the Same time whether you ever sent me that & 
wether you ever got a answer from my sister j am alitle 
unesey that you never rote thar js aserten person hear 
wants to Sea you verey much So pray com as Swon as 
posebell jf you right [write] Direct your Lett r to mr Ewerd 
Harton Living on M r tapthorps farm in Littel Cambrig 

That stirred Wenwood to action at last. His suspicions had 
been slow to kindle, but they were fully ablaze now. How did 
this girl know that her letter "wot you promest to send" had 
never reached Boston? If she knew that, she had some kind of 
contact with the British, from Cambridge itself. He had al- 
ready known that she had been trying to get in touch with the 
Royal Navy and Tory officials at Newport. He knew now that 
she was in contact with the enemy in Boston. 

What did she mean by saying that "aserten person hear 
wants to Sea you"? Was she hinting at a renewal of their old 
liaison? Was this a lure? Or was some sinister third person 

The Case of the Dangerous Doctor 15 

waiting for him? Wenwood knew he was out of his depth. He 
consulted his friend, the schoolmaster, again. 

The two decided to do, at last, what they should have done 
in the beginning. They went to Henry Ward, patriot secretary 
of the Rhode Island colony. That experienced individual, who 
saw at once how the land lay, told them to hasten to Cambridge 
with the letter and a full report. To avoid alarming the British 
spy whose identity they could not guess Ward urged Wen- 
wood not to ride straight into the town, but to wait in a neigh- 
boring village and send the papers on by other hands. 

Disregarding Ward's advice in this respect, Wenwood went 
straight to Cambridge, whither, so far as records show, Maxwell 
did not accompany him. As evidence of good faith, the baker 
carried a letter from Ward to Brigadier General Nathanael 
Greene, commanding Rhode Island troops. In this, Ward sum- 
marized the story for Greene's benefit. Wenwood, who had the 
ciphered letter with him, could give the general further ex- 

After one look, Greene started with Wenwood and the mys- 
terious document for headquarters, where he asked to see 
Washington privately, handed him the cipher, gave him Ward's 
letter, and introduced Wenwood to tell his own story. One 
glance showed General Washington that treason was afoot. He 
sent Wenwood hurrying off to find the girl and, "by using the 
confidence she had in him," to get her to reveal "the whole se- 
cret"; but, though he found the spy's messenger easily enough, 
Wenwood met with no success. The girl may have been, as 
James Warren, the army's paymaster general, said, "an infa- 
mous hussy," but she was also "a subtle, shrewd jade." Wen- 
wood had to report failure. 

Orders rapped out swiftly. Arrest the woman. Bring her in. 

When interrogation at length elicited Doctor Church's name, 
everybody was astounded. That ardent patriot? The surgeon 
general? A member of long standing in the Massachusetts Pro- 
vincial Congress? One of the men who had ridden to Spring- 
field to greet General Washington on his way to assume 
command in Cambridge? 

(Incidentally, one gets an idea of the efficiency of British in- 


telligence in this, as in all wars. It had an agent riding with 
the rebel general before he had time to reach his new com- 

It seemed incredible that such a man as Dr. Benjamin 
Church could possibly be guilty. A graduate of Harvard, he 
had studied medicine in England; had traveled in Europe; 
had married an English girl; had returned to settle down in 
Boston; had built an expensive summer house at which his 
neighbors marveled; had written political verse in defense of 
the Whigs; had seen the fight at Lexington or said he had; 
had been in frequent touch with the Continental Congress it- 
self. It was only a few days since (September 24) General Wash- 
ington had refused to consider his resignation because of 
"unwillingness to part with a good Officer." 

It was true that Paul Revere's American spy ring in Boston 
had noticed some suspicious leaks, but no one ever thought of 
connecting them with the doctor. It was true, too, that, for a 
little while before the Revolution, some people had wondered 
whether Doctor Church was really so wholeheartedly for the 
colonial cause as he professed; but that unkind suspicion speed- 
ily died down as patriots beheld his care of the army's wounded. 
Nobody ever accused him of neglecting them. 

It was easy enough for General Washington to find the sur- 
geon general. Doctor Church, though disturbed at his lady 
friend's failure to deliver his letter, could comfort himself with 
the belief that it was in an unbreakable cipher all ciphers seem 
unbreakable until somebody breaks them. The doctor was go- 
ing quietly about his medical duties when the guard caught 
up with him. That was the only thing he could possibly do, 
unless he tried to slip away to the British. 

Brought to headquarters, the doctor was bland, confident, 
almost convincing. He answered questions easily enough. The 
letter? Oh, yes, it was his. Why not? A good many letters were 
being openly sent through the lines to Boston. In fact, Major 
General Charles Lee, of the Continental Army, had been in 
fairly steady correspondence with his old friend, Major General 
John Burgoyne, of the British Army in Boston, openly, under 
flag of truce, through the lines. General Lee was just trying to 

The Case of the Dangerous Doctor 17 

persuade General Burgoyne that King George was pursuing 
the wrong policy. It is true that he failed to convince General 
Burgoyne, who replied in many pages of polished political 
prose. But that was all right. There was nothing surreptitious 
about it. General Washington had been fully informed of the 
correspondence by Lee himself. 

Church's correspondence had been a little different. It had 
been kept secret. Why? It was in cipher. Why? Doctor 
Church had no answer and was not obliging enough to offer 
his cipher key. Why? An innocent man would have turned it 
over at once. 

If Doctor Church had wanted to send a letter to Boston, Gen- 
eral Washington pointed out icily, he could have done so under 
a flag of truce at any time. Why did he send his letter secretly 
via Newport? The doctor mumbled an admission that he had 
been indiscreet. (On that point, everybody agreed with him.) 
As for treason, he denied the whole idea. (On that point, no- 
body agreed.) 

Doctor Church was kept under guard. 

The next step was to find some way of reading the letter. 
The use of cipher was not in itself so suspicious then as it ap- 
pears today. Since a letter in that day was merely folded over 
and sealed with a wax wafer, without a protecting envelope, 
it was not unusual to encipher personal messages to insure 
safety against prying eyes. Thomas Jefferson used more cipher 
in his personal than in his official correspondence. Since cipher 
was so common, it did not take long to find that the Conti- 
nental Army had three men who knew how to break it. One 
was a Massachusetts chaplain, the Reverend Samuel West, of 
Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Then Elbridge Gerry, of the Com- 
mittee of Safety, who was ''somewhat acquainted with decy- 
phering" himself, suggested Colonel Elisha Porter, of the 
Massachusetts Militia. 

The fact that the letter was written in English made the task 
fairly easy. It is a characteristic of the English language that 
letter frequencies run in about the order used on the modern 
typesetting keyboard, that is, ETAOIN SHRDLU. Modern 
cryptographers use two orders of frequency, ETOANIRSHDL 


or ETOANRISHDL. West, Gerry, and Porter evidently knew 
this simple principle. All they had to do was count the number 
of times each symbol occurred and arrange the symbols in or- 
der of frequency, perhaps also noting certain combinations of 
letters common in English-ee, ng, th, etc. which gave further 

Two independent analyses were made, one by the Reverend 
Mr. West working alone, the other by Porter and Gerry to- 

On October 3, General Washington received two separate 
deciphers. The versions agreed perfectly there was no more 

In his letter, Church had told the enemy all about his recent 
visit to Congress in Philadelphia. He had also reported fully on 
American strength, artillery, ammunition supply, rations, re- 
cruiting, currency, and the proposed attack on Canada. He gave 
exact figures on the artillery at Kingsbridge, New York, which 
he had been able to observe and count. He reported troop 
strength in Philadelphia and the mood of the Continental Con- 
gress "united, determined in opposition." 

His letter also revealed that he had unquestionably made 
three previous attempts at surreptitious correspondence, and 
probably a good many more. Once his messenger had been 
caught with a message sewed into the waistband of his breeches. 
Obvious though the hiding place was, the man was released 
after a few days, with his message still undiscovered. Bribery- 
helped. Church wrote: "A little art and a little cash settled the 
matter." It was now evident that he had dispatched his mistress 
to try the roundabout route through Newport only when all 
else had failed. 

The day he received the deciphered text, General Washing- 
ton called a council and laid the incriminating message before 
his generals. 

When they interrogated Church, the wretched man admitted 
that, in general, his letter had been correctly deciphered. To 
make matters worse, headquarters had, in some unexplained 
way, secured another ciphered letter, of which only a deci- 

The Case of the Dangerous Doctor 19 

phered version now survives. Church tried to explain this 
away. He had not written it. 

In his own defense, Church asserted that his motives had al- 
ways been entirely patriotic. The letter Wenwood had revealed 
might seem suspicious. But Doctor Church protested he was 
entirely loyal. He had written only to frighten the British with 
an exaggerated account of American strength and so prevent 
them from attacking. 

The listening generals knew well enough that part of this was 
true. Church really had magnified American numbers. They 
may, however, have reflected that a simple agreement with 
Gage to reduce reported figures by another agreed figure would 
have provided the spy with this argument in his own defense 
without preventing the enemy from getting accurate informa- 

It is more probable that Church simply overestimated the 
numbers of the troops he was observing, as secret agents are 
very likely to do. As medical director, he had no access to 
General Washington's strength reports, and it is extremely dif- 
ficult to reach a correct estimate simply by watching soldiers 
in an occupied town. 

His defense made no impression on the alarmed American 
generals who heard it. The doctor, still loudly proclaiming 
his loyalty, was marched off to confinement. 

The indignant generals turned to the army regulations that 
Congress had adopted in the previous June. There it was! 
Congress had foreseen such cases. Article XXVIII provided 
that anyone communicating with the enemy should suffer such 
punishment as a court-martial might direct. That seemed to 
fit the situation. Try the man and string him up! 

At this point, someone searched a little further and made an 
embarrassing discovery. Article LI limited the punishment a 
court-martial could inflict. It could give penalties of thirty-nine 
lashes or a fine of two months' pay and it could cashier the of- 
fenderand that was all! No one had been thinking about 
British spies when that article had been adopted. It had simply 
never occurred to patriotic members of the Continental Con- 
gress that such an offense as Church's was possible. Congress 


hastily authorized the death penalty for espionage, November 
7, 1775 (there was no difficulty in hanging Andre, later), but this 
change could not be applied to Church. 

General Washington could, however, hold the doctor in cus- 
tody; and the man's papers must be seized at once. 

Too late! 

Somewhere, in or about Cambridge, lurked another British 
spy. That quick and clever agent, whose identity has, to this 
day, never been discovered, had already searched Church's rec- 
ords. When the Americans seized them, they were pure as 
driven snow. Eagerly Joseph Reed, of the staff, examined the 
remaining papers. They were perfectly ordinary records, such 
as any medical man might keep. Not a single document showed 
Doctor Church's guilt, though his cipher key must have been 
in those innocent files only a few weeks before. 

Though none of the investigators ever knew it, Doctor 
Church had become alarmed some time earlier. A document 
discovered in recent years shows he had learned that the rebels 
had a spy of their own, deep in the councils of the Ministry in 
London. This unknown American agent was learning the 
names of "the friends of Gov* in all the Colonies/' Shivering 
at the thought that he, too, might be discovered, the doctor 
begged General Gage: ''Therefore conceal my name." He need 
not have worried. Apparently the American agent in London 
simply missed him. 

The Massachusetts Provincial Congress dealt with its treach- 
erous member as best it could; but it had no power to punish 
spies, either. Church, after a vigorous defense, saved everyone 
a great deal of trouble by resigning; but the legislators were not 
satisfied till they had "utterly expelled" him, even after his 

Eventually, the Continental Congress ordered him kept in a 
Connecticut prison, under the severest restrictions. Though 
this was probably illegal, Governor Trumbull saw to it that the 
dangerous doctor stayed where he could do no more harm to 
the patriot cause. No one yet imagined how much harm he 
had already done or how long he had been doing it. James 
Warren, paymaster general, had some shrewd suspicions, but 

The Case of the Dangerous Doctor 21 

no proof. He guessed quite correctly why Church had been 
able to enter Boston and leave again, even after Lexington: 

"I have now no difficulty to account for the knowledge Gage 
had of all our Congress Secrets, and how some later plans have 
been rendered abortive; or for the Indulgence shewn him 
[Church] when he went into Boston after the Lexington Battle, 
do I discover a want of charity that the Evidences won't war- 

The evidence warranted a far worse judgment, but it took 
one hundred and fifty years for Americans to find it, and the 
doctor was, by that time, safe at the bottom of the sea. The fact 
was, he had been Gage's secret agent long before the Revolu- 
tion began. 

Governor Trumbull put Church in confinement of the se- 
verest sort. Gilbert Saltonstall describes it in a letter to Nathan 
Hale, November 27, 1775: "Doct* Church is in close Custody 
in Norwich Gaol, the Windows boarded up, and he deny'd the 
use of Pen, Ink, and Paper, to have no converse with any Per- 
son but in presence of the Gaoler, and then to Converse in no 
Language but English. Good God what a fall." 

In January, 1776, Trumbull relaxed sufficiently to grant the 
use of pen, ink and paper, long enough for Church to write an 
appeal to the Continental Congress. In this, the prisoner com- 
plained that the severity of his jailers had brought on asthma, 
which threatened his life or so the physician diagnosed his own 

Congress, after receiving the spy's request for "clear, elastic 
air/' relented sufficiently to order him moved to another jail 
and allowed him to ride out under guard. As nothing was done 
about this order, Church again petitioned this time with a 
certificate from three physicians. Congress then authorized his 
liberation, if he would give sureties for 1,000 and swear not 
to correspond further with the British and not to leave Massa- 

Though allowed to visit Waltham in June, he still was not 
set free, since it was soon clear that indignant patriots would 
lynch the man unless he was kept confined. When his Waltham 
jail was raided, Church saved his life only by jumping out of 


the window. If this was an attempt to escape, it failed, for he 
was soon back in durance. 

A year later it looked as if he again had a chance of freedom. 
The tolerant, indolent and kindly Sir William Howe, who had 
now replaced Gage, sympathizing with Church's troubles, of- 
fered to exchange a captured American surgeon. The Massa- 
chusetts government agreed; but a patriotic mob caused such 
a commotion that Church had to be sent back to jail after he 
had actually gone on board the cartel vessel, sent for him. A 
newspaper of the time shows that this vessel came in during 
July, 1777. 

Church went back to a Boston jail. But, according to Mrs. 
Church, the mob "broke open his house pillaged and destroyed 
every thing it contained." The agitated wife, whom Church 
had abandoned for his mistress even before his arrest, was not 
left "a change of cloaths, nor even a bed for her and her chil- 
dren to lie on/* Somehow, the poor woman found enough 
money to pay her passage to England. 

General William Heath vigorously protested against letting 
the doctor go. His release, said the general, would allow him 
to give information "greatly Detrimental to the United States 
at this Juncture of our Publick Affairs"; for by this time Bur- 
goyne's army was moving menacingly southward from Canada, 
and no one dreamed, as yet, that it would surrender in a few 
months. Though two years had passed since his arrest, it was 
no time to release a spy; and General Howe's well-meant effort 
to secure Church's freedom merely convinced Americans that 
he was too dangerous to let go. 

By 1780, the situation had somewhat changed. Though the 
war was not over, Congress at length relented, knowing that 
the doctor would now do little harm, since any military intelli- 
gence he might once have had was long since out of date. He 
was * 'exiled to some Island in the West Indies, and threatened 
with death in case he shod ever return." 

He sailed in a small schooner, commanded by a certain Cap- 
tain Smithwick, and nothing was ever heard again of Doctor 
Church, Captain Smithwick or their schooner. They were pre- 
sumed to have been lost at sea. Mrs. Smithwick was so sure of 

The Case of the Dangerous Doctor 23 

it that, by May, 1782, she "married another husband.'* Mrs. 
Church had seen quite enough of matrimony. 

At home in Boston, Church's father alone retained his faith 
in "my Lost son the DoctV whose expenses he had paid during 
eighteen months of his imprisonment. To the end, he stoutly 
maintained the doctor was no traitor, "but alas! for him, 8c me! 
He was improvident and thereby expos'd himself to y e re- 
sentment of his Country." Pathetically clinging to the belief 
his son might still be somewhere safe in hiding, the old man 
left the fugitive five pounds and his library, in a will dated 
1780. But even the father was not quite sure. He made the 
bequest to his son, if alive, "for alas; he is now absent being 
cruelly banish'd his Country and whether living or dead God 
only knows." 


* * * 

The Secret Story Behind 
Lexington and Concord 

GENERAL WASHINGTON, horrified as he was when he discovered 
how closely the far-seeing eye of British intelligence had been 
watching him, would have been a great deal more disturbed, 
had he ever guessed how long Doctor Church had been spying 
for the enemy; how much he had reported; and how many 
other secret agents General Gage had had actively at work, 
watching all the patriots' early preparations for the Revolution- 
ary struggle. Though Doctor Church was not caught until long 
after Lexington and Concord, he had been spying for many 
months before those battles. Probably he had been betraying 
the patriots' secret plans for about two years, since by 1775 he 
had become a trusted British secret agent which cannot have 
been a quick or easy process. The real story was never revealed 
till General Gage's secret papers came to light in the present 

So far as can now be ascertained, Doctor Church's espionage 
may have begun sometime in 1774, when General Gage reached 
Boston, to succeed Thomas Hutchinson as royal governor of 
Massachusetts. That none of Church's espionage reports is 
dated earlier than 1775 proves nothing; for he was in medical 


The Secret Story Behind Lexington and Concord 25 

practice in Boston, where he could report orally instead of in 

From the beginning, casual suspicions of the doctor had oc- 
casionally crossed the minds o various patriots, but they were 
soon forgotten. Doctor Church had always been at any rate, 
he had always seemed a furious patriot. He had delivered one 
of the anti-British orations on the anniversary of the Boston 
Massacre. He had displayed a neat gift for anti-British politi- 
cal doggerel, in smoothly rhyming couplets. But skeptical pa- 
triots had noted that adroit parodies of these same verses, 
turning their meaning quite around, invariably and promptly 
appeared in pro-British colonial papers. In their new forms, 
the verses supported the king's cause. Unkind persons sus- 
pected Doctor Church might be writing both. Nobody could 
prove anything, then; nobody can prove anything, now; but 
people wondered who else had a style so exactly like the literary 
doctor's a little closer than ordinary parody. 

By November, 1774, Paul Revere knew there was a leak 
somewhere in the patriot spy ring he was helping to operate. 
"A gentleman who had connections with the Tory party, but 
was a Whig at heart" warned him that the group "were dis- 
covered." To prove it, the nameless gentleman repeated cor- 
rectly what had been said supposedly under the protection of 
an oath of secrecy at a meeting the night before. 

Despite all this, there was still very little suspicion of Church, 
though Revere and his friends knew that he was privy to their 
leaking secrets. But so was John Hancock; so was one of the 
Adamses. How could anyone suspect stanch patriots like these? 
In the end, the Revere group reluctantly concluded that the 
traitor was one of their own number, though they could find 
no clue to his identity. Rather naively, they changed their meet- 
ing place. It was the only precaution they could think of. 

Presently the anonymous gentleman spoke to Revere again. 
Everything the Revere group did was still being reported to 
Gage. How did the gentleman know that? He had it from no 
less a personage than Thomas Flucker, secretary of the prov- 

Distressed patriots noted with alarm that Church spent a 


good deal of time with a half-pay British captain named Price, 
and a British commissioner named Robinson. While this 
caused some comment, no one suspected treason. Doctor 
Church just seemed a little careless about his company. When, 
at last, an anxious friend remonstrated, Church laughed the 
whole thing off: Associate with Tories? Of course he did. "He 
kept Company with them on purpose to find out their plans." 

Still another queer thing about the doctor was observed, then 
ignored. A medical associate was mildly surprised to note a 
sudden improvement in his finances, during 1775. Popular 
physician though he was, Church spent so lavishly that he often 
seemed hard up. He had built an elaborate house. He had a 
wife and family to support. He also had a mistressand that 
kind of sin costs money. Suddenly, he had plenty of bright 
gold guineas. His friend wondered, but no real question 
crossed his mind until it was too late. 

Paul Revere's own vague doubts were set permanently at 
rest when he met the doctor in Cambridge, the day after Lex- 
ington (April 20, 1775), and found him proudly displaying a 
bloodstain on his stocking, "which he said Spirted on him from 
a man who was kill'd near him, as he was urging the Militia 
on." It never occurred to Revere that the doctor had had a 
whole day to get a clean pair of stockings. Untroubled by skep- 
ticism and completely won over, he put away all uncharitable 
thoughts: "I well remember, that I argued with my self, if a 
Man will risque his life in a Cause, he must be a Friend to that 
cause; & I never suspected him after, till He was charged with 
being a Traytor." Church had never been near the firing line 
at Lexington. 

By this time, the physician had grown dangerously bold. He 
went in person to see Gage, at headquarters. Another caller, 
waiting to see the general, was amazed when Gage and Church 
emerged from Gage's private office, with every mark of friend- 
ship; but he felt no need to do anything about it. After all, he, 
too, had reason to call upon the general. 

The full extent of Church's treason would be a secret, still, 
were it not for a casual remark in a single letter, which defi- 
nitely proves that he is the author of a long series of intelli- 

The Secret Story Behind Lexington and Concord 27 

gence reports which now survive in the Gage papers, in the 
Clements Library at the University of Michigan. Gage received 
this secret letter sometime in May, 1775, and his headquarters 
noted on it the date May 24. It was full of military informa- 
tion about the new American fortifications outside Cambridge, 
It also reported the resolute mood of the colonists: "They will 
not lay down their arms." 

Then come the words which, after a century and a half, con- 
vict Church: "I am appointed to my vexation to carry the 
dispatches to Philadelphia." Church received such an appoint- 
ment in the middle of the month. No one else received any 
similar appointment. On May 16, 1775, the Massachusetts 
Provincial Congress had "Resolved, that Doct. Church be or- 
dered to go immediately to Philadelphia," to consult with the 
Continental Congress. Gage's secret agent was now in close as- 
sociation with both provincial and national governing bodies. 
It was a master stroke of espionage. Not till Benedict Arnold, 
did any British spy come closer to American secrets. 

There is no doubt that Church is the author of several other 
reports of the same kind and in the same handwriting. One 
letter carries the identification a little further, for it contains a 
reference to "Mrs. Fleming." Church's sister-in-law, in Boston, 
was Mrs. John Fleming. Though this letter is in parts illegible, 
some passages refer to the destruction of papers and a "Cypher." 
Two sentences, though obscure, give further proof that Church 
had been a British spy for a long time: "instant death w d be 
my portion should a discovery be made." Another still-legible 
passage reads: "Secrecy respecting me on the part of the Gen 1 
is indispensable to my rendering him any services and be the 
event what it may is necessary to the preservation of my life." 
Either passage is plain evidence of espionage. 

Another letter in this series and in this same hand ends: 
"The 25th of this month finishes a quarter." This is a plain 
request for cash, since the Americans of that day still followed 
the British practice of settling accounts quarterly, instead of 

Though Doctor Church was General Gage's most valuable 
and most strategically placed secret agent, he was only one of a 


numerous group operating in a highly efficient intelligence sys- 
tem which had been keeping up a steady flow of accurate in- 
formation about nearly everything the patriots were doing, long 
before the fight at Lexington. By January, 1775, the need for 
military intelligence was becoming so great that Gage ordered 
all officers and men familiar with the Massachusetts country- 
side to report to his adjutant general, who, as usual in British 
staff organization of that period, doubled as chief intelligence 
officer. It was helpful that Gage's adjutant general, though a 
regular, was American-born-Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Kem- 
ble, son of a New Jersey Tory, who continued to hold his dual 
staff post under Howe and Clinton, until Major John Andre 
took over in 1780. 

Both sides in the American Revolution were about equally 
well served by their intelligence services and quite as badly 
served by their counterintdligence. Except for Church, not 
one of Gage's agents was ever captured; only a few were sus- 
pected; and most of them have never been identified. On the 
other hand, the patriots in Cambridge and Boston spied upon 
the British with equal impunity; and, though Church knew 
who many of the spies were, only two Paul Revere and James 
Lovell were ever caught; and both were soon free again. 

Next to Doctor Church, the most deadly of Gage's secret 
agents was a mysterious individual in or near Concord, who 
was always intimately acquainted with everything the patriots 
were doing there. He may have been a local Tory, with an 
ardent but carefully concealed loyalty to the crown; but com- 
parison of handwritings suggests that he may have been a cer- 
tain John Hall, of whom little is known, save that he had seen 
service in Canada. From this Concord agent, whoever he was, 
General Gage received during March and April, 1775 in other 
words, during the last weeks before the fighting started at 
Lexingtona series of detailed reports on American supplies of 
arms, ammunition and food. 

For some reason, this active spy wrote his reports in French. 
Why he did so is hard to explain; for, while it is true that Gage 
understood the language perfectly and used it in preference to 
English in his official correspondence with the French-Swiss 

The Secret Story Behind Lexington and Concord 29 

soldier of fortune, General Sir Frederick Haldimand, there 
seems to be no special reason for an English spy to use a foreign 
language in writing to an English generalespecially since the 
excruciating badness of grammar, accents, genders, idioms and 
spelling shows that, whatever the man was, he was neither 
French nor French Canadian. Perhaps this points to John Hall, 
who may have learned French in Canada, and may have learned 
it rather badly. 

It seems likely that the spy used a foreign language because 
he hoped for temporary security in case one of his reports 
should fall accidentally into the wrong hands. Some such pre- 
caution was desirable, for, strange to say, in early 1775 the 
British commander-in-chief had no code, no cipher, and no 
officer who knew how to make one. He had to appeal for help 
to the commanding general in Canada, from whom he probably 
obtained the clumsy substitution cipher that Doctor Church 
was found using, later in the year. 

Though the unknown Concord spy sometimes came to Bos- 
ton, he was careful to avoid being seen at headquarters. Some 
of his letters, though actually written in the city, seem to have 
been stealthily conveyed to Gage by a go-between. One of these 
messages describes the roads ct d!ici" to Concord. *'Ici" can only 
mean Boston. 

Whatever this agent's linguistic shortcomings, this report, 
like others that he wrote, is a model of its kind. It conveys full 
information of artillery, small arms, powder and bullets stored 
in Concord, and locates exactly the supplies of lard, dried peas 
and flour on which American soldiers would have to depend 
for sustenance. It also discusses roads, guides and the manu- 
facture of arms and tents in Charlestown. It is noteworthy that 
when the time came for the British to march to Lexington and 
Concord, several competent guides were instantly available. 

The report closes with a warning about desertion: 

Spies and messengers are continually in the city to lure 
away the soldiers and there is a boat which, as an ordinary 
thing, carries them from behind the city to the other side 
of Cambridge Bay [i.e., the mouth of the Charles River] 
landing at Phipps's Point. This information is confirmed 


by a deserter, who recently gave information to the priest 
at Concord (named Emerson, a very bad subject), to whom 
he stated that he escaped by the route. 

The boat may have been one of the Boston ferries or a small 
craft that Paul Revere kept concealed for emergency use. The 
"pretre de Concord" named Emerson, who was ff un mauvais 
sujet" was the Reverend William Emerson, father of the philos- 
opher. Apparently the secret agent was trying to say that he 
was a bad subject of the king, rather than that this blameless 
man was a bad character. (It was, to be sure, bad French, but 
that was the kind of French the spy wrote.) The surprising fact 
is that the writer knew all about the deserter's highly confi- 
dential talk with the loyal and patriotic clergyman. Whoever 
he was, this spy was deep in patriotic councils and completely 

It was a report of special interest to General Gage, for deser- 
tion was becoming a serious problem. Any regular who wanted 
to leave -the army knew that the patriots would welcome him 
for the intelligence he brought, and would give him employ- 
ment as drill master for their numerous awkward squads. Only 
two days after this report, Gage received another, saying that 
the royal militia were also deserting. General Nathanael 
Greene had a British deserter training American troops in 
Providence. A deserter from a Boston artillery company was 
training patriot artillerymen in Worcester, where the "French" 
spy had seen himand also thirteen field guns, lined up in front 
of the church. Furthermore, fifteen tons of gunpowder were 
now hidden in Worcester. It is no wonder Gage at once sent 
more secret agents to Worcester. 

By April 6, 1775, the Concord spy had located four brass 
cannon, stolen from Boston, together with some mortars, at the 
home of "B " (in other words, Colonel James Barrett). Red- 
coats rushed off to look for them as soon as they reached the 
town, leaving a guard to secure the bridgehead, and thereby 
bringing on the fight with the minutemen. 

Other secret reports to General Gage, in three different hand- 
writings, deal mainly with political secrets, giving detailed ac- 

The Secret Story Behind Lexington and Concord 31 

counts of what the Provincial and Continental Congresses were 
doing. One of these, which may be by Church, comments on 
the probable reaction of Massachusetts people to an "excur- 
sion" probably an ordinary route march to harden the troops 
on March 30, 1775. When the soldiers destroyed property, 
there were the usual complaints, not to the general, but to the 
Provincial Congress. That body kept its decision secret. 

But General Gage knew all about it in a few days. His spy 
reported on April 3 that the provincial legislators had made up 
their minds "that should any body of troops w th Artillery, and 
Baggage, march out of Boston, the Country should be instantly 
alarmed, and called together to oppose their March, to the last 

Gage acted on this intelligence two weeks later. The spy's 
warning explains why Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith's in- 
fantry column set off for Lexington on the night of April 18, 
unsupported by artillery and without baggage. Only when, on 
the nineteenth, Lord Percy had to bring out a reserve force to 
rescue Smith, did artillery appear. 

Another report, on April 9, discusses the alarm of the patriots 
over the arming of Tories; the colony's probable refusal to pro- 
vide barracks for more troops; flight of Whigs from Boston; the 
actual movements of prominent patriots like John Sullivan. 
Two days later, another describes "great Consternation in 
Congress" over Parliament's support of the king and over the 
reinforcement sent to Gage. The spy urges .Gage to strike at 
once: "A sudden blow struck now or immediately on the ar- 
rival of the reinforcements from England should they come 
within a fortnight would oversett all their plans." It is hardly 
an accident that Gage moved against Lexington and Concord a 
week later. The general had already shown that he could act 
promptly on intelligence received. He had learned, on Febru- 
ary 2 1 and 24, that the rebels had stored cannon at Salem, and 
that "the Seizure of them would greatly disconcert their 
schemes." Two days later, his troops struck, though they ac- 
complished little. 

Other secret agents appear to have been volunteers. One of 
these men reports Gage's soldiers selling uniforms and arms. 


The price of muskets was four dollars, and there was no doubt 
who was buying them. An unsigned letter warns that the pa- 
triots are trying to cut off supplies of straw and oats for 
British cavalry and to keep Boston's food supply at a low 
level. John Lovell, father of the patriot spy, James Lovell, was 
busy with what he called "private services" for Gage. When 
the general wanted papers of the rebel committee, he called 
upon Lovell. That stout Tory soon "did procure them & de- 
liver'd them to the Gen 1 himself." 

Unwilling to rely wholly on civilians, General Gage had also 
secured strictly military intelligence about the situation in Con- 
cord from Major John Pitcairn, of the Marines. The major, 
more or less disguised in civilian clothes, had been a frequent 
visitor at the Jones Tavern, some time before the battle. 

But it was a civilian spy's report that finally touched off the 
Revolutionary War. When, on April 15, General Gage learned 
that the New England colonies proposed to raise 180,000 men 
an absurd figure he lost no more time. That very day he 
withdrew his grenadier and light infantry companies from gar- 
rison duty, allegedly for special training. That night Admiral 
Graves began to get his boats ready. 

The suspicious Americans immediately commenced moving 
materiel out of Concord as a British spy reported, April 18, 
one day before the battle. Provisions had not yet been re- 
moved, the agent said, but military stores were hidden, and 
only four field guns remained in the village, because the Ameri- 
cans feared "a sudden march of the troops might dispossess 
them of the Stores." 

That was enough for Gage. A sudden march was just what 
he would make. Lieutenant Colonel Smith, with all the grena- 
dier and light infantry companies, started that night. 

The spy concluded this report with an analysis of the rebel- 
lious popular mood in the Connecticut and Rhode Island 
assemblies: "There is no doubt entertained among us but that 
they will readily embark in the common cause & chearfully 
furnish proportionable supplies." Rhode Island had just re- 
ceived four hundred barrels of gunpowder, three hundred mus- 
kets and several tons of lead. The colonies might soon be 

The Secret Story Behind Lexington and Concord 33 

expected to "declare a direct denial of Parliamentary suprem- 
acy." Information that the Massachusetts rebels would soon 
have this support encouraged Gage in his fateful decision. 

When General Gage sat down to write Lieutenant Colonel 
Smith's orders for the march to Concord, he had before him 
a summary, which still exists, of this intelligence; but his march 
order of April 1 8 omits it. Instead, he gave Lieutenant Colonel 
Smith a specially prepared map, with locations of the patriots* 
arms and supplies marked on it. After listing what was to be 
destroyed, the order says: "You have a Draught of Concord, on 
which is marked, the Houses, Barns, fee, which contain the 
above Military Stores." General Gage knew the rebels had not 
yet had time to find new hiding places for all the supplies they 
had collected. 

At Woburn, about ten miles from Concord, another British 
agent was living, quite openly. This was Major Benjamin 
Thompson (later Count Rumford), of the New Hampshire 
Militia. Because Thompson had already made his New Hamp- 
shire home too hot to hold him by sending British deserters 
back to General Gage in Boston, he had settled down in Wo- 
burn, his boyhood home, where he came instantly under 
patriot suspicion. Documents discovered in our own century 
show that the suspicion was only too completely justified; but 
nobody ever saw those documents in Revolutionary times, ex- 
cept General Gage and a few trusted staff officers; and the fu- 
ture Count Rumford protested his devotion to the "true 
interests" of the colonies so loudly that few people thought to 
ask just what he meant by "true interests." It is said that Gen- 
eral Washingtonwho, as a Virginian, knew little of New Eng- 
land's local scandals was prevented only by his officers' protests 
from giving the British spy a commission in the Continental 

It is doubtful that any of the reports on munitions supplies 
in Concord came from Major Thompson; for he was already 
under suspicion, and any curiosity about patriot stores in the 
vicinity would have led to instant trouble. There is, however, 
plain evidence of his espionage. In the Gage papers is a "sym- 
pathetic-ink" letter from him, which is a spy's report and noth- 


Ing else, though masked by an innocent message in ordinary 
ink. The name of the addressee and one signature have been 
completely erased, the second signature being cut out there 
must have been some cautious staff officer in Gage's headquar- 
ters. The cover letter, May 6, 1775, is merely a short and formal 
note of thanks. A more experienced secret agent would have 
written a longer letter, leaving less blank paper, and would 
then have used invisible ink between the lines. 

The unknown Bostonian who received it, knew enough 
about his friend Thompson's activities to take the apparently 
innocent letter to General Gage. As it now appears, in the 
Clements Library, the paper shows plain traces of a chemical 
wash; and the two separate messages are now in inks of quite 
different colors. One is the faded yellowish brown of most 
eighteenth-century ink. The other is paler; and some trouble 
with the developer has caused the loss of two words a not 
unusual occurrence. 

Thompson ignores the Lexington and Concord battles, then 
two weeks past, remarking that Gage has ' 'already better intel- 
ligence of them affairs than I am able to give." He has, how- 
ever, been conversing with an unknown but far too talkative 
"Field officer in the Rebel Army (if that mass of confusion may 
be called an Army)/' 

There is a fair chance that this was Colonel Loammi Bald- 
win, who in July had taken over intelligence at Chelsea and 
Maiden, Massachusetts, for General Washington. It is impossi- 
ble to doubt Baldwin's loyalty, but he may easily have trusted a 
brilliant and plausible rogue like Thompson, too far. They 
had been lifelong friends; they had worked together in saving 
the Harvard College Library from wartime damage; and Bald- 
win had observation posts close to Thompson's refuge at Wo- 

In addition to what he learned from the chatty American 
officer, Thompson assured General Gage that he had further 
information from "a member of the Provincial Congress that 
is now sitting at Watertown." This may mean either that he 
had been working with Doctor Church or that he had found 
a second traitor within the Provincial Congress. More prob- 

The Secret Story Behind Lexington and Concord 35 

ably, the British, spy had found one of those not unusual legis- 
lators who let things slip out, from sheer self-importance. 

Thompson reported that "an Army consisting of 30,000 
effective men is speedily to be raised in the four New England 
Governments, & that the quota for this Province is 13600." 
(It is true that the New England colonies never raised such a 
force; but it is also true that they at one time planned to raise 
an even larger force.) Thompson thought the Americans were 
planning a feint against Boston, but would really attack Castle 
William, in the harbor. Congress was already considering in- 
dependence and would seek European aid. Admitting that he 
had no accurate logistical information, he believed the rebels' 
supplies were scanty. 

Though both signatures are gone, there is no doubt this 
letter comes from Thompson, since it is dated from Woburn, 
where he was then living, is in one of his two known handwrit- 
ings, and describes his peculiar situation exactly. It is just 
possible, since he was living so near Concord, that he was 
serving the unknown "French" spy as a "cut-out" that is, an 
intermediary, receiving intelligence reports and sending them 
on, so as to protect the reporting agent's anonymity. Or both 
men may have been in touch with the Concord Tory, Daniel 
Bliss or with another Tory, named Gove, of whom nothing is 
now known, except that he lived near Concord, and that on 
one occasion he not only sheltered a known British spy but 
got him, with the most expert ease, safely to Boston. 

In October, 1775 just as Doctor Church's misdeeds were 
being discovered Thompson went back to his New Hamp- 
shire home to say farewell to his wife. Either because suspicions 
of his Toryism had died down or because the local patriots had 
too many other things to think about, Thompson was not dis- 
turbed. Even so, he did not attempt to go straight on to 
Boston. Instead, he journeyed overland to Rhode Island. The 
British, who knew in advance that he was coming, had him met 
by a boat from H.M.S. Scarborough, and the frigate took him 
safely to Boston. 

By November 4, 1775, he was writing out a detailed report 
on conditions in the American camp for Sir William Howe, 


who had by that time replaced Gage. When Sir William 
evacuated Boston the following March, Thompson sailed off 
to London to assist Lord George Germain, who was running 
the Colonial Office and the American Revolution. 

He did not trouble to notify his wife, left in Concord, New 
Hampshire, with their little daughter. In despair, the poor 
woman (who never saw him again) finally wrote the American 
Army to ask what it could tell her. A stanch friend always, 
Colonel Loammi Baldwin replied from New York: "I have had 
no opportunity to find out whether Major Thompson is with 
the enemy or not." 

It is the only case in history where a spy's deserted wife has 
applied to the enemy's intelligence service to learn where her 
spying spouse has gone! 

Captain Brown and Ensign De Berniere 

LONG BEFORE musket fire flashed across the bridge at Concord, 
General Gage had learned about other patriot stores in the 
Massachusetts towns of Charlestown, Watertown, Worcester, 
Salem, Marblehead, Mystic and Menotomy; and in Connect- 
icut. On February 21, 1775, his secret service reported that, 
within five days, twenty wagonloads of flour had passed from 
Marblehead and Salem, through Mystic, in the direction of 
Worcester. Gun carriages were being made at Charlestown, 
Watertown and Marblehead. Twelve brass cannon at Salem 
were "lodged near the North River, on the back of the Town." 
Connecticut towns were laying in supplies of food and muni- 
tions, the largest store being at Hartford. Tools were being 
made at Menotomy, pickaxes at Mystic. 

It looked as if the largest of these supply dumps was at 
Worcester; but, before he could send redcoats to seize them, 
General Gage needed professional observation by trained sol- 
diers, both in Worcester itself and along the roads his troops 
would have to travel. On February 22, one day after receiving 
his intelligence reports, Gage started his first pair of disguised 
regulars toward Worcester, to be followed in April after 
further alarming intelligence had come in by a second pair. 



Both got themselvesand the Tories who tried to help them 
into a great deal of trouble. 

It would be too much to say that both pairs of spies nearly 
got themselves hanged; for the dispute had not come to an 
open clash of arms; the laws of war did not apply; and no one 
was, as yet, in a hanging mood. But, even in early 1775, indig- 
nant patriots could make things extremely unpleasant for king's 
men, especially those detected in espionage, without actually 
executing them. One band of patriots near Worcester had al- 
ready laid in an adequate supply of tar and feathers for the 
Tory host of one of Gage's spies, which they intended to use 
the moment they could prove he was harboring a British agent; 
and there would assuredly have been enough left over to adorn 
the spy. 

Both pairs of agents were detected, but neither pair was cap- 
tured; and both missions returned to Boston with full reports, 
while one brought back a map and other military drawings, 
together with a full road and terrain report. 

As his first pair of spies, General Gage chose Captain William 
Brown, of the ssnd Regiment of Foot, and Ensign Henry De 
Berniere, of the loth. Though the British commander knew 
there were supplies at Worcester, he had to find out in exactly 
what part of the town they were stored; and he needed infor- 
mation on roads and terrain, if he was to move troops into 
Worcester to destroy them. Guessing this would happen, he 
had in January, 1775, sent out a call for officers "capable of 
taking Sketches of a Country/' and in De Berniere he had 
found a good one, whose work is still a valuable historical 
source. As the disguised officers were likely to be seen making 
road maps and terrain sketches, they were ordered to pose as 
ordinary surveyors. The general's instructions were in writing: 

You will go through the counties of Suffolk and Worces- 
ter, taking a sketch of the country as you pass; it is not ex- 
pected you should make out regular plans and surveys, 
but mark out the roads and distances from town to town, 
as also the situation and nature of the country; all passes 
must be particularly laid down, noticing the length and 

Captain Brown and Ensign De Berniere 39 

breadth of them, the entrance In and going out of town, 
and whether to be avoided by taking other routes. 

General Gage also wanted information regarding streams, 
woods, hills, defensible places in towns, the possibility of con- 
structing additional roads parallel to main roads, camp sites, 
and local supplies of food, forage, straw, and extra horses. 

Someone, probably Ensign De Berniere himself, kept a copy 
of these orders and also a written "narrative" of the spies' ex- 
periences. This was probably the ensign's personal file copy, 
identical with the report turned in to Gage, though no official 
copy now remains in the Gage papers. When Boston was 
evacuated a year later, the owner of the surviving copy forgot 
it. It was found by the Americans and promptly "printed 
for the information and amusement of the curious/* 

The narrative begins by stating quite specifically Gage's rea- 
son for this secret mission: "he expected to have occasion to 
march troops through that country the ensuing Spring." The 
spies had hardly started when the general found he was going 
to have even more occasion. An unsigned report of February 
24, 1775, warned him that if his troops attempted "to penetrate 
into the Country," Worcester, Leicester, Plymouth, and Marble- 
head would turn out fifteen thousand minutemen. The rebels 
already had thirty-eight field guns, most of them at Worcester, 
others at Salem and Concord; and additional military stores 
were being sent to Worcester and Concord. 

The two officers took with them Captain Brown's soldier serv- 
ant, who would in the modern British Army be described as a 
"batman." All three disguised themselves "like countrymen, 
in brown cloaths and reddish handkerchiefs round our necks." 
Leaving Boston by way of Charlestown, they passed Cambridge, 
"a pretty town, with a college built of brick," and reached 
Watertown without being suspected. They paused for dinner 
at Jonathan Brewer's tavern, just over the Watertown- Waltham 
boundary. They could hardly have selected a worse place, for 
not only was the landlord an ardent Whig but he would, a 
year later, be commanding troops at Bunker Hill. 

The two officers dined together, while Captain Brown's man 


went to the kitchen with the servants. Brown and De Berniere 
were served by a young Negro woman, who was "very civil," 
but who, as the uneasy secret agents presently noted, "began to 
eye us very attentively." In their effort to appear wholly at 
ease, they tried to strike up a conversation with her. This, they 
remarked, was "a very fine country." 

"So it is," replied the girl, "and we have got brave fellows 
to defend it, and if you go up any higher you will find it so." 

Since Gage had told them to try to pass for surveyors, the 
two officers had, with an apparently casual indifference, let 
some rough notes for a map be seen. The Negro girl, far too 
bright to be thus deceived, went straight back to the kitchen, 
where she announced her suspicions. Captain Brown's servant, 
John, hearing her, warned his officers at once. 

"This disconcerted us a good deal," says De Berniere, "and 
we imagined she knew us from our papers which we took out 
before her." Hastily the two resolved not to spend the night 
at the inn as they had intended. They paid their bill and went 
on, interrogating John as soon as they were at a safe distance. 
Had he been with the servants? How much had that Negro 
girl guessed? 

"He told us," says the ensign, "that she knew Capt. Brown 
very well, that she had seen him five years before at Boston, 
and she knew him to be an officer, and that she was sure I was 
one also, and told John that he was a regular he denied it; 
but she said she knew our errant was to make a plan of the 
country; that she had seen the river and road through Charles- 
town on the paper; she also advised him to tell us not to go 
any higher, for if we did we should meet with very bad usage." 

Disturbed by this inauspicious beginning, the three spies held 
a council of war. Temporarily, the rigid caste lines of eight- 
eenth-century military Britons were beginning to break down. 
"John" would soon be eating at the same board with the two 
officers. It was agreed "that if we went back we should appear 
very foolish, as we had a great number of enemies in town, be- 
cause the General had chose to employ us in preference to 
them; it was absolutely necessary to push on to Worcester, and 
run all risks rather than go back until we were forced." 

Captain Brown and Ensign De Berniere 41 

It Is hardly necessary to comment on Gage's folly in letting 
this secret mission be known to a "great number/' In a town 
where Paul Revere, William Dawes and other patriot agents 
had long been watching every British move. To make matters 
worse, Brown, in leaving Boston, had been incautious enough 
to walk past a sentry from his own regiment. The soldier could 
hardly fail to draw conclusions (and gossip about them), when 
he saw a captain of the 52nd pass his post in the rough clothes 
of a laborer. 

Soon after leaving the tavern was it really an accident? 
they encountered a "country fellow" and another man who 
looked like a deserter from Gage's army. These men seemed 
unnaturally eager to "join company." Going to Worcester? 
By a strange coincidence, the dubious pair "were going our 
way." This would never do. The importunate fellow travelers 
may have been nothing but what they seemed to be, for Ameri- 
can colonists had long since lost any British reserve their ances- 
tors may once have possessed; and, since strangers were none 
too common, colonists liked to talk with them. But, however 
unsuspicious these obtrusively friendly individuals may really 
have been at least to begin with they would not long have 
remained so if the British agents had begun to draw military 
maps. The spies shook off their undesired acquaintances by 
stopping at the Golden Ball Tavern, in Weston, kept by the 
notorious Tory, Captain Isaac Jones. 

Gage does not seem to have briefed his agents properly before 
starting. They should have had some idea where to look for 
sympathizers along the way and some means of identifying 
themselves. In sending out later agents, Gage went to the oppo- 
site extreme, providing so much identification for his spies to 
use in Tory houses, that there would have been no possible 
question of their guilt had the patriots caught them. 

Recognizing with relief that Jones was not inquisitive, the 
two officers resolved to stay the night, asked for a fire, and 
ordered coffee. This was the period of eighteenth-century Brit- 
ish coffeehouses, and it is just possible they really did want 
coffee. They knew well enough, however, that with the Boston 
Tea Party (December 16, 1773) only fourteen months in the 


past, no patriotic American was drinking tea. To ask for it 
openly would have been courting trouble in many a Yankee 
inn, but not in this one. Very quietly the landlord volunteered 
information: "We might have what we pleased, either tea or 
coffee." It was a not uncommon recognition signal, quite un- 
official, but not to be mistaken. Tories had to be careful to 
whom they made such an offer; but Jones probably had no 
doubt at all that he was speaking to British officers. 

"We immediately found out with whom we were, and were 
not a little pleased to find, on some conversation, that he was 
friendly to government." Having got into trouble at one inn 
and out of it at another, and realizing that they needed to 
know more of what lay ahead, they asked their host "for the 
inns that were on the road between his house and Worcester." 
Jones told them to go to Buckminster's Tavern in Framingham, 
on the old Boston- Worcester road, and to the house of another 
Jones, in Worcester. The gentlemen would be safe enough 
under their Tory roofs. 

The next day was "very rainy and a kind of frost" in other 
words, a Massachusetts February. Consequently the road was 
so nearly deserted that the spies could take their time about 
sketching a defile, after which they went on to Buckminster's. 
There seemed no danger of detection and, says Ensign De 
Berniere, "we felt very happy, and Brown, I, and our man 
John, made a very hearty supper; for we always treated him as 
our companion, since our adventure with the black woman." 
It had dawned on them at last that genuine colonials, travel- 
ing afoot, would not be accompanied by a batman. 

They reached Worcester, with no cause for uneasiness except 
a chance meeting with two men who looked like British desert- 
ers. There was danger that, if they really were deserters, they 
might recognize the officers; but nothing happened; and the 
spies, pausing only to sketch a "pass" about four miles from the 
city, came safely into Worcester, where they put up at the inn 
of the other Jones. 

No one in Worcester paid any attention to them, but it was 
evident that the worried innkeeper was not exactly glad to see 
them, knowing very well the risks he was running in receiving 

Captain Brown and Ensign De Berniere 43 

such guests In such a center of rebellion. "He seemed a little 
sour, but it wore off by degrees." 

With breakfast came the usual code. Their host had made 
no request for identification; but when the visitors asked what 
there was for breakfast, the Tory reply was at once given: "Tea 
or anything else." It was "an open confession what he was." 
But his guests were careful to involve the innkeeper as little as 
possible. They were sure he knew what they were; and, if so, 
he could have no doubt what they were doing; but the prudent 
Tory asked no questions, and his equally prudent guests vouch- 
safed no information. 

As it was Sunday, they dared not leave their lodging, fearing 
that anyone walking the streets during church services would 
be arrested and examined. Prudently, they kept out of sight till 
sunset, the end of the Puritan Sabbath, after which, secure in 
the early February dusk, they walked freely about the town, 
seeing what they could see, then out on the hills, sketching 
whatever they wished and returning safely to their lodgings. 
It was presumably either Brown or De Berniere who made the 
plans for a camp and fortifications on Chandler's Hill, outside 
Worcester, which were found after the British evacuated Bos- 

Presently the landlord announced that two gentlemen wished 
to' speak with the travelers. Who were the gentlemen? The 
landlord was noncommittal. But he was sure his guests "wou'd 
be safe in their company." The intelligence officers took a cau- 
tious attitude. Their callers might be genuine Tories. On the 
other hand, they might be provocateurs. 

Hastily assuming a casual attitude, the spies replied that of 
course they were safe. They "did not doubt that." Why 
shouldn't they be safe? After all, they were just "two gentle- 
men who traveled merely to see the country." There is no evi- 
dence that anybody winked, and Jones seems to have maintained 
a perfectly straight face. 

Though it is doubtful whether anybody was deceiving any- 
body in the remotest degree, the two spies declined to see their 
uninvited visitors, who, after about an hour, went away. In 
view of Jones's willingness to vouch for them, they were almost 


certainly local Tories, eager for a chat with the king's officers, 
perhaps ready to give some military intelligence. But if they 
had information, it would be easy for them to send it directly 
to General Gage, and it was too risky for the spies to consort 
with known Tories. It was dangerous enough for them to be 
lodging with Jones. 

The landlord, not offended and not at all deceived, chatted, 
talked politics, helped drink a bottle of wine, and explained, 
with a knowing air, that "none but a few friends to govern- 
ment" knew of the officers' presence. Again the pair feigned 
a calm they were far from feeling: "We said it was very indiffer- 
ent to us whether they did or not, tho' we thought very differ- 

By the time they had secured their information and made 
their sketches, too many people were showing an interest in 
them. Clearly, they had "staid long enough in that town." At 
daybreak they started back for Framingham, where they wanted 
to make a few additional observations, since Gage was likely 
to move his troops that way. They took the precaution of car- 
rying some roast beef and brandy ('Very necessary on a long 
march"), so that there would be no need of stopping for meals 
at farmhouses, "where perhaps they might be too inquisitive." 

Beyond Shrewsbury, just east of Worcester, something hap- 
pened that ought to have put them on their guard. They had 
had no real trouble so far, and since leaving Worcester had 
been "unobserved by any one." Then, as De Berniere describes 
the incident: "We were overtaken by a horseman, who exam- 
ined us very attentively, and especially me, whom he looked 
at from head to foot as if he wanted to know me again; after 
he had taken his observations he rode off pretty hard and took 
the Maryborough road, but by good luck we took the Framing- 
ham road again to be more perfect in it, as we thought it would 
be the one made use of." The British spies did not guess their 
danger, for they had not recognized the inquisitive horseman, 
who though he ought to have been more subtle in examining 
them was a formidable antagonist. 

The patriot Committee of Correspondence, far more alert 
than either the officers or their host realized, already knew 

Captain Brown and Ensign De Berniere 45 

strangers had been at Jones's tavern, and had strong suspicions 
of their motive for this midwinter visit. The pretense of being 
surveyors was hardly convincing. Road surveys, at best infre- 
quent in colonial Massachusetts, were not likely to be con- 
ducted at such a season. 

Why did these two strangers, with no discoverable business, 
visit Worcester just as it was becoming a munitions center? 
The committee began to wish it knew a little more about them, 
and Captain Timothy Bigelow, commanding Worcester's inin- 
uteman company, went out to see. Though he was only the 
town blacksmith, Bigelow was a first-rate officer, the discipline 
of whose company later roused enthusiasm from the exacting 
General Washington himself. After seeing the spies a few miles 
from Marlboro and walking in that direction, he rode ahead 
to prepare a reception for them. It was pure luck that the two 
British officers turned off toward Framingham and thus evaded 
him. Though they had noticed him looking them over, they 
were not, as yet, fully alarmed. 

Their next fright came when, reaching Colonel Joseph Buck- 
minster's inn at Framingham about six o'clock, they found the 
local militia at drill. Presently the troops moved toward the 
inn and continued drilling under the window of the worried 
spies, who "did not feel very easy at seeing such a number so 
near"; but, in the end, this turned out to be mere chance. 

Brown and De Berniere listened gravely to an address by the 
local commander to his men, after which the company, dis- 
missed, came tumbling into the barroom and drank till nine 
o'clock, quite unaware that two regular army officers had been 
watching them all the time. 

Next day, the spies were back in Weston, at the Golden Ball 
Tavern, where they "received several hints from the family not 
to attempt to go any more into the country." They were not 
satisfied, however, with their knowledge of the "Sudbury road" 
the northern road between Boston and Worcester. After all, 
their general might wish to use that road, too. He might even 
move in two columns, using both roads. The captain and the 
ensign had been sent out to make a road report and they meant 
it to be both full and accurate. 


Disregarding warnings, therefore, they started back toward 
Worcester along the upper road next morning, to reconnoiter 
as far as the point where they had turned off for Framingham, 
two days earlier. They either knew or soon found out that 
Bigelow had preceded them to Marlboro; and, aware there 
might be difficulty, they collected all their sketches and started 
the batman, John, off to Gage's headquarters with them. I 
the officers were caught and searched now, they would have 
nothing incriminating on them. 

Meantime, though the hunt for them was up, the spies had 
no immediate trouble. Passing through Sudbury,^they took 
time to note the condition of the causeway and the high ground 
commanding it, beyond Sudbury River. Since it was snowing 
hard, they were undisturbed until, about three miles east of 
Marlboro, another horseman caught up with them and paused 
to chat. 

Where did they come from? Weston. 

Did they live there? No. 

Well, then, where did they live? 

"At Boston/' (Which was true.) 

They now realized, in desperation, that there was no way of 
getting rid of the man until they satisfied him. Refusal to 
answer apparently innocent questions would merely add to 
suspicion. There was still just a chance that the questions were 
as innocently casual as they appeared. Rural New Englanders 
were an inquisitive breed. 

Where were they going? 

"To Marlborough, to see a friend." (This also had the merit 
of truth.) 

Were they in the army? 

They were in fact both old infantrymen, veterans of many a 
route march, and the swing of an old infantryman's shoulders 
on a long march is unmistakable. Had this betrayed them? "A 
good deal alarmed," they denied it. 

After several more "rather impertinent questions," the stran- 
ger rode on to Marlboro. Though the two worried "survey- 
ors" guessed that he must be going "to give them intelligence 
there of our coming," the only thing they could do was to walk 

Captain Brown and Ensign De Berniere 47 

straight ahead, looking as innocent as possible. To turn around 
in the middle of the countryside and start back would be a con- 
fession of guilt, and they could easily be overtaken. Probably 
the whole countryside between Weston and Marlboro had been 
alarmed by this time. Dismally they foot-slogged ahead through 
the driving snow, wondering what would happen when they 
reached Marlboro. 

The town was all ready for them when they tramped in. 
Everyone seemed to be waiting. In a day of no telephones, it 
was a remarkable turnout. "The people came out of their 
houses (tho j it snowed and blew very hard) to look/' 

"Where are you going, master?" a baker asked Captain 

"To see Mr. Barnes," replied the captain, briefly. 

It did not help very much, since Barnes was a notorious 
king's man; but there was no use lying, since everyone could 
see where they turned in, and there was no place else to go. 
They were allowed to reach their destination undisturbed, for 
the Marlboro patriots meant to deal with them a little later. 
To Barnes, the Englishmen apologized "for taking the liberty 
to make use of his house," and at last admitted that they were 
"officers in disguise." 

Barnes, in tones that must have been a trifle grim, "told us 
we need not be at the pains of telling him, that he knew our sit- 
uation, that we were very well known (he was afraid) by the 
town's people." The popular mood was "very violent." Marl- 
boro patriots had been hunting for the spies all through the 
cold night before. 

Was there a tavern where they could be safe? Hardly. Where 
then? They "could be safe nowhere but in his house," and 
even that began to look like a rather thin hope. 

Only now did Captain Brown and Ensign De Berniere real- 
ize what Timothy Bigelow had been doing. "We suspected, 
and indeed had every reason to believe, that the horseman that 
met us and took such particular notice of me, the morning we 
left Worcester," says the rueful ensign, "was the man who told 
them we should be at Marlborough the night before, but our 
taking the Framingham road when he had passed us, deceived 


him." If Gage's intelligence in Worcester had been a little bet- 
ter organized, De Berniere would have known all about Bige- 
low-who was, in fact, described in the French-speaking 
Concord spy's report, a few weeks later, as "un grand chef 
among the rebels. But that was too late to help the map-mak- 
ing officers. 

By this time, people were gathering in small groups through- 
out the town. Barnes asked anxiously who had spoken to them 
as they entered Marlboro. 

"A baker/' said one officer. 

Barnes was startled: "A very mischievous fellow." In fact, 
at that very moment, "there was a British deserter at the baker's 

Captain Brown wanted to know the fellow's name. He could 
use that, later. 

"Swain," said Barnes. "He had been a drummer." 

Captain Brown looked glum, for he "knew him too well." 
Swain had deserted from Brown's own company a month be- 
fore. He could not fail to recognize his captain and, as a de- 
serter, could best protect himself by making trouble for Brown. 

The officers asked Barnes anxiously, "if they did get us into 
their hands, what would they do with us?" No one on a secret 
mission can possibly keep that unpleasant subject from run- 
ning through his mind every now and then. Barnes hesitated. 
He did not really know, but he knew well enough it would be 
something acutely unpleasant, and he also knew that whatever 
happened to the spies was also likely to happen to the man who 
harbored them. But he hesitated not an instant in protecting 
the men who held his king's commission. 

Just after this alarming conversation, Barnes was called out. 
He came back more worried than ever. Dr. Samuel Curtis had 
suddenly arrived for supper, entirely uninvited. Curtis was 
selectman, town clerk, justice of the peace, and this was the 
sinister part a member of the patriot Committee of Corre- 
spondence. He had not been inside Barnes's house for the last 
two years. If he was forcing himself on the Tory at this particu- 
lar moment, there could be only one reason. As the ensign put 

Captain Brown and Ensign De Berniere 49 

It, he "came now for no other business than to see and betray 

In a far from hospitable mood, Barnes went to talk with the 
intrusive physician. Barnes regretted: "He had company and 
could not have the pleasure of attending him that night.' 1 Cur- 
tis was strangely slow to take the hint. He did not go. First he 
"stared about the house." Was there anything revealing left 
lying about? A stranger's hat or cloak would prove nothing. 
Curtis knew that there was "company." He had been told so, 
without being invited to join them. He was probably hoping 
to find some article that could be identified as uniform. Fail- 
ing in that, he chatted with Barnes's little daughter. (Children 
do, sometimes, unconsciously reveal military intelligence worth 

Who was with her father? 

"She had asked her pappa," said the little girl, "but he told 
her it was not her business." The child's answer could not fail 
to add to the doctor's already aroused suspicions; but in the 
end he retired, discomfited. De Berniere gloomily assumed he 
went "to tell the rest of his crew." All this had happened 
within twenty minutes. 

It was clear by this time that to remain would be dangerous 
both to themselves and to their host. The pair decided, how- 
ever, to rest two or three hours before leaving, as they had 
walked sixteen miles that day through the worst kind of New 
England winter weather. First, they wanted food. 

They were just sitting down to it when Barnes, who had dis- 
appeared, rejoined them. He had gone out to see what his serv- 
ants could tell him and came back, very uneasy. The patriots 
were going "to attack us." There was no possible safety for the 
two officers anywhere in Marlboro that night. 

The spies decided to set forth instantly, though, as De Ber- 
niere wrote later, "it snowed and blew as much as ever I see it 
in my life." Sneaking them out of the house by the stables, 
Barnes pointed out a "bye road," which would take them 
around Marlboro at a quarter mile distance. (A better-trained 
counterintelligence than the Marlboro patriots boasted would, 


by this time, have had the house under surveillance, and all 
roads, especially "bye roads/' blocked.) 

Deprived of their dinner, the Englishmen carried along some 
bread, their beef and brandy being long since exhausted. As 
soon as they got to the hills overlooking the causeway at Sud- 
bury, they slipped into the woods (no use taking a chance o 
discovery on the roads) and there "eat a bit o bread/' Instead 
of the dinner they had missed. A little brandy would have 
been opportune in the storm; but bread was all they had, and 
the best they could do was to "eat a little snow to wash it 

When they started again, they had hardly gone more than a 
hundred yards before a man emerged from a house. 

"What do you think will become of you now?" he asked, 
sepulchrally. The remark may have been a mere pleasantry, in 
view of the weather, but it sounded menacing. 

They now feared that a trap was waiting in Sudbury; and 
their fear was heightened when, a quarter of a mile west of the 
town, they met a group of horsemen, who opened out to right 
and left of the road to let them through. It was nothing but 
courtesy. No effort was made to stop them, but, says De Ber- 
niere, "our apprehensions made us interpret everything against 
us/' They reached the Golden Ball Tavern at Weston once 
more, "after walking thirty-two miles between two o'clock and 
half-after ten at night*' in other words, four miles an hour, the 
very limit of a forced infantry march. They had done this, 
"through a road that every step we sunk up to the ankles, and 
it blowing and drifting snow all the way/' Jones supplied a 
bottle of mulled Madeira; and, thus fortified, they "slept as 
sound as men could do, that were very much fatigued." 

The moment they had breakfast next morning, they hurried 
on to Boston. Jones had been careful to point out a road that 
took them a quarter of a mile below Watertown, for, having 
been recognized there on the way out, they wisely "did not 
choose to go through that town/' 

As they came in sight of Boston, they met Generals Gage and 
Haldimand, with their aides-de-camp, "walking out on the 
neck/' The generals did not recognize their own spies until 

Captain Brown and Ensign De Berniere 51 

they revealed their identity in public, which, of course, was 
all wrong. As they went on into the city, they noted with sat- 
isfaction that other officers did not recognize them either: "We 
besides met several officers of our acquaintance who did not 
know us/' Their disguises had not deceived New Englanders. 
It was some comfort to fool their brothers in arms. 

A few days later, when Barnes, their host at Marlboro, came 
to Boston, the spies learned how narrow their escape had been. 
They were fortunate to have lingered in his house no more 
than twenty minutes. The patriot Committee of Correspond- 
ence had quickly appeared to interview Barnes. Refusing to 
believe the mysterious travelers had gone, they had searched 
"from top to bottom, looked under the beds and in the cel- 
lars/' Convinced at length that their prey had given them the 
slip, they had sent horsemen out on every road. De Berniere 
guessed that, "the weather being so very bad, they either did 
not overtake us, or missed us." 

Barnes had tried to persuade the suspicious patriots that his 
visitors were not officers at all. They were relatives, just rela- 
tives of his wife's, on their way from Penobscot to Lancaster, 
Pennsylvania. If the patriots pursued toward Pennsylvania, 
they had a long, cold, snowy ride that profited nothing. 

There is no formal record that Captain Brown's batman, 
John, got through with the maps and sketches safely. No maps 
that can be recognized as De Berniere's now remain among the 
Gage papers; but there are three good reasons for supposing 
that John "made it": (a) There is no American record of his 
capture; (b) De Berniere would hardly have failed to mention 
so great a disappointment; and (c) Isaac Thomas, the patriot 
printer of Boston and Worcester, himself saw, after the British 
evacuation, a military sketch of a Worcester hill which was 
probably made by these two officers. 

Captain Brown and Ensign De Berniere had hardly returned 
to Boston when Gage decided they might be equally successful 
at Concord. Orders issued accordingly on March 20, 1775, less 
than a month before the fatal march to Lexington. Captain 
Brown and Ensign De Berniere were "to set out for Concord, 
and examine the road and situation of the town." They were 


also to get what Information they could regarding the "quantity 
of artillery and provisions." 

In disguise once more, probably about the same they had 
used on their Worcester journey, the two officers set off again, 
this time taking the precaution of going armed. Since army 
flintlocks would have been too conspicuous, they probably car- 
ried small pistols, which could be concealed in their garments. 
Since De Berniere remarks that "we were three and all well 
armed/' they presumably took Brown's invaluable batman, 
John, with them again. 

Perhaps with a view to avoiding suspicion, they did not fol- 
low the direct road, northwest to Lexington, but went in the 
opposite direction to Roxbury, then through Brookline, and 
then to the village of Weston, which lies due south of Concord, 
avoiding Jonathan Brewer's tavern, between Waltham and Wa- 
tertown, with its dangerously observant Negro waitress. Only 
then did they strike north to Concord, making the trip "with- 
out any kind of insult being offered us." 

The village of Concord, they duly noted, "lies between hills 
that command it entirely." The river had two bridges. In sum- 
mer it would be "pretty dry" in other words, probably forda- 
ble, a matter of interest to infantry commanders. The houses- 
were scattered in small groups. Houses in small groups can 
become formidable strong points; though when the war broke 
out, there was no house-to-house fighting in either Concord or 
Lexington, only some casual firing from windows and rather 
savage British retaliation. 

There were already patriotic troops on duty in the village: 
"They fired their morning gun, and mounted a guard of ten 
men at night." Clearly, these men were guarding colonial 

The spies' local contact man was the Tory, Daniel Bliss, a 
Harvard graduate of the Class of 1760. Though it would have 
been easy to find out exactly where his house was before they 
left Boston, they had been careless enough to neglect doing so 
and now had to ask their way, forgetting that sharp patriot eyes 
were watching all strangers. 

The two officers had hardly reached the Bliss home when the 

Captain Brown and Ensign De Berniere 53 

woman who had directed them came in, weeping. She had 
been warned to leave Concord. Otherwise she would be tarred 
and feathered "for directing Tories on their road." Bliss gave 
them dinner. Presently a threat reached him, too. "They 
would not let him go out of town alive that morning." 

It was disquietingly evident that the patriots were very much 
on the alert. The disguised officers had met with no difficulty, 
yet the town seemed to know all about them. It was time to 
get out. 

Dangerous as their position now appeared, Brown and De 
Berniere paused long enough to get a fair idea of the supplies 
the Provincial Congress had stored in Concord. The Bliss 
home was a good place from which to do so, as flour for the 
rebel troops was being ground only two hundred yards away 
and a harness shop nearly as close was making artillery harness, 
cartridge boxes and accouterments. The two spies learned that 
the stores included flour, fish, salt and rice, and that there was 
"a magazine of powder anid cartridges." Bliss assured them that 
the patriots would fight; and, as his patriot brother, Thomas 
Bliss, passed them, said: "There goes a man who will fight you 
in blood up to his knees." The patriots' Joint Committee of 
Safety and Supplies had, on February 13, ordered four brass 
field guns and two cohorns (mortars) sent to Concord. The 
British officers were able to ascertain that the guns had already 

The report on the artillery is so detailed that one or both 
of the British officers must actually have seen it. The guns 
"were mounted but in so bad a manner that they could not 
elevate them more than they were, that is, they were fixed to 
one elevation." There were also ten iron cannon "kept in a 
house in town." The brass artillery, which would suffer less 
from the weather, was hidden "in some place behind the town, 
in a wood." 

Since Bliss's life was threatened he was later proscribed and 
had to leave New England forever he decided to go back to 
Boston with the officers. Crossing the river, they went on to 
Lexington, observing the road that the redcoats would soon be 
following. "The road continued very open and good for six 


miles, the next five a little inclosed, (there is one very bad place 
in these five miles) the road good to Lexington. You then come 
to Menotomy [modern Arlington], the road still good; a pond 
or lake at Menotomy. You then leave Cambridge on your right, 
and fall into the main road a little below Cambridge, and so 
to Charles town; the road is very good almost all the way/* 

On April 19, 1775, Ensign De Berniere was guiding Lieuten- 
ant Colonel Francis Smith's column along those very roads, on 
the march to Lexington and Concord. Bliss was safe in Boston, 
as commissary of the British forces. 


The Adventures of John Howe 

CAPTAIN BROWN and Ensign De Berniere had scarcely finished 
mapping the roads to Worcester when Doctor Church and other 
British spies began to report that the patriots were still collect- 
ing large military stores. Toward the end of March, 1775, it be- 
came clear that, though Concord was thoroughly covered by 
British agents, there would have to be more espionage in 
Worcester; and, since the American munitions were being 
transported through Watertown and Weston, spies would have 
to visit those villages, too. 

A fortnight before the fights at Lexington and Concord, on 
April 5, 1775, General Gage started off Lieutenant Colonel 
Francis Smith, loth Foot, and an assistant named John Howe, 
both in disguise, for a second investigation at Worcester. It is 
characteristic of the fate of secret agents that John Howe, who 
succeeded brilliantly, is totally forgotten; whereas Lieutenant 
Colonel Smith, by getting himself soundly defeated at Concord 
a few days later, became a general and earned a permanent 
place in history. Who or what John Howe was, is not clear. 
He may have been the "John" who accompanied Brown and 
De Berniere; and he was attached to the British Army in Bos- 
ton, though he was not an officer and is never referred to as 



an ordinary enlisted man. Whoever he was, John Howe made 
such a reputation in the secret service that, nearly forty years 
later, as the War of 18 is approached, the British sent him back 
to the United States, on another secret mission. 

Before leaving Boston, the two British spies dressed as a pair 
of wandering laborers, with leather breeches, gray coats, "blue 
mixed" stockings, and handkerchiefs knotted about their 
throats. Each carried his luggage in the customary bundle, tied 
up in a homemade handkerchief. Each also carried the usual 
foot traveler's stick, which could be thrust through the knots 
of the handkerchief, so that the wayfarer's bundle could be car- 
ried on his shoulder. 

Starting before breakfast when no one was about the colonel 
can hardly have wished the loth Foot to behold him in these 
undignified habiliments-they trudged through Cambridge to 
Watertown, where Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith's career 
as a secret agent came to a swift and humiliating close. After 
six miles on empty stomachs, the two spies paused for break- 
fast at a Watertown tavern, apparently the one where Captain 
Brown and Ensign De Berniere had been spotted. No one had 
warned them against the watchful Negro maid who had voiced 
her suspicion of the first spies. 

Lieutenant Colonel Smith, in an effort to keep up his pose 
as a rural laborer, presently inquired where they could find em- 
ployment. The girl's reply was so completely unexpected that, 
says Howe, it "about wound up our breakfast." The spirit of 
equality was abroad and the maid had no reverence for rank. 

"Smith/' said she bluntly, "you will find employment enough 
for you and all General Gage's men in a few months." 

The girl must have enjoyed the impression she created. 
"Smith appeared thunderstruck," his companion records, "and 
my feelings were of the keenest kind." 

The alarmed pair could hardly flee instantly; but, when their 
host came round to inquire how their breakfast "suited," one 
chagrined officer replied: "Very well, but you have got a saucy 
wench there." 

The landlord, trying to smooth matters over, agreed that the 
girl was indeed a saucy creature, but "she had been living in 

The Adventures of John Howe 57 

Boston, and had got acquainted with a great many British of- 
ficers and soldiers/' Was it accident or sly malice that made 
him add, eying their costume: "and might take you to be some 
of them"? Hastily paying their bill, Smith and Howe departed, 
followed by the landlord's suggestion that they might "find 
work up the road." 

Up the road the crestfallen pair hurried, as fast as they could 
go, but not in quest of work. All they wanted was to put as 
much space as possible between themselves and that tavern. 
As soon as they were out of sight, the two climbed one of the 
ever-present New England stone walls and settled down behind 
it to discuss matters. Since they agreed it was useless for Smith 
to continue, he handed over to Howe their "journal book" (the 
kind of written record no secret agent should ever carry with 
him!), a pencil, ten guineas, and letters to various Tories 
(which, if discovered, would convict the bearer and all the ad- 
dressees, of espionage). As he did so, Lieutenant Colonel Smith 
uncharitably remarked that, "if he came out with his regiment 
that road, he would kill that wench." 

Then, after promising Howe a commission if he came back 
alive, Lieutenant Colonel Smith, who was very fat, made a re- 
grettably undignified departure, "running through the bar- 
berry bushes to keep out of sight of the road." 

Howe went on toward Waltham, alone, making a decorous 
pretense of asking for work, but taking good care not to get 
any. As he made inquiries, he was careful to remark that he 
was a gunsmith by trade, for the shrewd fellow knew there was 
no surer way of learning about the rebels' stores of small arms. 
At Waltham, just beyond Watertown, a farmer directed him to 
Springfield, where "they were in want of hands to work at that 
business." Howe had better hurry: "They were in want of 
guns, for they meant to be ready for them." 

The espionage business was looking up. Here was informa- 
tion as to rebel armament; location of an arms factory; a note 
on its activity; evidence that the rebels expected the British to 
move far to the west against them (a good reason why General 
Gage should move elsewhere northwest against Concord); and 
a definite statement, probably correct, of enemy intentions. 


The rebels meant "to be ready/* which meant that they would 

Howe showed his cleverness a moment later, when the talka- 
tive farmer asked if he didn't want a drink. Spirits, perhaps? 
No, no, said Howe, carefully keeping up his pose as a wander- 
ing New Englander. He would like a glass of "New England 
and molasses/' This meant rum and molasses, a beverage much 
enjoyed by Yankees of heroic mold. "I well knew that to be a 
Yankee drink," says How r e, who was always careful not to give 
himself away on the small matters that get you hanged. 

Going on, he presently came to a causeway, which he stopped 
to study, to see if it would carry artillery. A Negro, setting 
traps, asked what he was looking for. The question seemed to 
be mere friendliness, not suspicion. Howe, as usual, had an an- 
swer all ready he was trying to find sweet flag, a swamp iris 
whose root was a specific for stomach-ache. Offering to take 
him where the plant grew, the trapper chanced to walk by a 
large buttonwood and, glancing at it, casually remarked that 
"the people were going to cut it down to stop the regulars from 
crossing with their cannon." 

This was just the kind of thing Howe had been sent out to 
learn: (a) There would be resistance near Waltham; (b) passage 
of artillery and transport could be easily blocked; (c) British en- 
gineers would need plenty of axes to clear the way. 

Since it is a mistake to ask too many questions, Howe ven- 
tured only one more: How would the people know when the 
regulars were coming? 

"They had men all the time in Cambridge and Charleston 
looking out" another bit of information General Gage would 
be glad to have. 

The two parted amicably. 

Phenomenal luck of this sort could not long continue nor 
did it. The Negro had directed the thirsty spy to two taverns, 
one "by Weston meeting house/' the other "half a mile above." 
The first, he said, "was kept by Mr. Joel Smith, a good tavern 
and a good liberty man; the other was kept by Capt. Isaac 
Jones, a wicked Tory, where a great many British officers go 
from Boston." (Innkeepers were often militia officers.) The 

The Adventures of John Howe 59 

British officers were probably just in innocent search of din- 
ners that would be a relief from an army mess, but people were 
already beginning to watch suspiciously everything they did. 

Though Howe knew better than to say so, he already knew 
all about that loyal subject of King George, Captain Isaac 
Jones. He had in his pocket a letter to the "wicked Tory" from 
General Gage himself, for Jones had already helped Brown and 
De Berniere. 

Howe knew, however, that the right place for him was not 
in this Tory household. Far safer to make straight to the tav- 
ern of a "good liberty man" like Joel Smith; and to the hos- 
pitable door of that irreproachable patriot the British spy 
ostentatiously proceeded. If he later wanted to drop in at the 
Tory captain's tavern well, many a thirsty man, after walking 
half a mile from Smith's tavern, naturally stopped for a second 
drink at Jones's. 

By what at first seemed extraordinarily bad luck, Howe 
walked up to the tavern of the hundred-per-cent patriot, Smith, 
just as two teamsters were "tackling" [harnessing] their teams. 
The teamsters, too, were hundred-per-centers. It is reasonably 
clear that they had driven their loads out from Boston that 
morning, had paused for a mid-day tavern meal, and were now 
ready to go on. They had heard stories, along the way, about 
two suspicious travelers at Watertown; and they had their 
doubts as soon as they set eyes on John Howe. They accused 
him only of being British, not of being a spy, though the two 
were, outside of Boston in early 1775, pretty nearly the same 
thing. Curiously enough, they did so not because of his accent, 
but because he "looked like them rascals they seen in Boston." 

To disarm suspicion, Howe hastily called for more rum and 
molasses, a mixture which no Englishman, then or since, has 
ever been known to drink. One of the still suspicious team- 
sters followed him into the tavern, however, to warn the land- 
lord that the stranger was a spy. To offset this, Howe prattled 
glibly about gunsmithing in Springfield, where all these rebels 
must know small arms were being made. If anyone challenged 
his claim to be a gunsmith, he could easily demonstrate his 


skill. He explained that he needed work, any kind of work, to 
get a little ready money. 

This sounded better in Yankee ears. A British spy would 
assuredly be well supplied with British gold. (Howe was, but 
he knew better than to admit it.) Wayfarers looking for tem- 
porary jobs were common enough. To Howe's joy, the patri- 
ots themselves sent him straight to the tavern of Captain Isaac 
Jones, where, they said, he would be likely to find work-- 
thereby providing the very excuse he needed for visiting this 
known Tory. It was a relief to see that he had apparently qui- 
eted the teamsters. 

Little did the spy realize that the local patriots could play a 
few tricks, too. If this fellow really was a British agent, he 
would linger at the local Tory's house. That was why they 
sent him there. Meantime, the teamsters stopped telling the 
spy they suspected him (which had been the wrong thing from 
the start) and were getting ready to spread the news about 
Howe where it might do some good. If the suspicious stranger 
failed to guess that trouble was brewing, all the better! 

Handing Jones his letter from General Gage, Howe told the 
Tory his mission and what had happened at the other tavern, 
down the road. Either because he was shrewder than Howe or 
because he knew the local situation better, Captain Jones took 
no chances and thereby, within a very short time, saved him- 
self from a coat of tar and feathers. He sent his hired man to 
take this dangerous visitor away from the tavern instantly, to 
a remote house, belonging to a thoroughgoing loyalist named 
Wheaton, whom Jones knew he could trust. When the hired 
man told Wheaton frankly that Howe was a British agent, the 
hospitable Tory promptly provided a private room, candles, 
paper and brandy no necessity now to pose as an enthusiast for 
"New England and molasses." 

Howe settled quietly down to write some notes. He had un- 
questionably collected essential elements of information that 
would interest General Gage; but it was all the kind of infor- 
mation he could easily have carried in his head. To write it 
down was simple madness, which could easily have hanged him. 

Meantime, news that the Negro waitress at Watertown had 

The Adventures of John Howe 61 

recognized a British officer in disguise had spread. Since the 
teamsters had heard all about it on their way out, various pa- 
triotic secret committeemen had probably heard about it, too. 
No one knew that Lieutenant Colonel Smith had skulked 
through the barberry bushes back to Boston. People were mis- 
takenly looking for two spies, but one spy would do. 

Before long, thirty angry patriots were clamoring at Jones's 
tavern. He had British spies in his house, they told him. Some- 
where in the background the teamsters and Joel Smith, patriot 
keeper of the first tavern, must have chuckled. Jones would 
really be caught with a spy this time, for they themselves had 
sent the spy. 

Blandly, Captain Jones invited the inquirers to search his 
house. (Few experiences are more agreeable than watching the 
other side's counteiintelligence frantically searching where 
there is positively nothing to find.) Taken aback by their fail- 
ure, the patriots then interrogated Jones's Negro woman. 

Were there strangers or Englishmen in the house? 

The girl hardly thought so. 

Had there been any? 

One or two gentlemen had dined upstairs. 

Where had they gone? 

To Jericho Swamp, two miles away. 

Suspicion began to die down. Captain Jones helped it die, 
with a free bottle of spirits. 

Undisturbed by this excitement and safe at the Wheaton 
house, Howe spent a few quiet hours; added to his journal data, 
thoughtfully supplied by Captain Jones, about the local militia; 
dined; was introduced to the Wheaton daughters as "a British 
officer in disguise"; played cards with the Misses Wheaton; and 
with them drank "a dish of tea," a beverage against which this 
household had no prejudice. 

Once more the patriots tried a trick. Though they had os- 
tentatiously left the Tory tavern after searching it, they had 
been secretly keeping it under observation all the time, hop- 
ing to entrap Howe, should he venture to return. Of all this, 
Isaac Jones was well aware. While the patriots were lurking 
about, awaiting Howe's return, the hired man quietly guided 


him from Wheaton's, along a back road, to the main Worces- 
ter road. They forded the Sudbury River some miles from 
Framingham, and went on to Marlboro, traveling along back 
roads or perhaps even cross-country. 

Waking Barnes, the Marlboro Tory, they gave him two let- 
ters, one that General Gage had given Howe, one that Jones 
had given his hired man. Convinced of their good faith, Barnes 
provided liquid and other refreshment. News of the spy scare 
at Watertown had, he said, preceded them, but was not 
believed by the local people. With this news the hired man de- 
parted, since it was dangerous for any member of a Tory house- 
hold to be conspicuously absent. The sooner he was back at 
his usual duties, the better it would be. Howe got to bed about 
four o'clock in the morning. 

Barnes waked him at nine with bad news. During their night 
journey, Howe and Captain Jones's hired man had been seen 
by a woman, "up with a sick child/' Leaping in that atmos- 
phere of general suspicion to the correct conclusion that these 
were spies, she had watched long enough to see that they went 
in the direction of Worcester. Barnes, himself unsuspected, had 
hung about the local tavern while his secret guest was sleeping, 
and had picked up this word of approaching danger. To the 
tavern he again promptly departed, to see if there was any real 
"stir about the spies," and what ought to be done if there was. 

During daylight, Howe could do nothing but stay in the 
house and keep away from windows. About four in the after- 
noon, his host came back from the tavern to say that the spy 
scare had "turned out to be Negro stories," not generally be- 
lieved. At eight o'clock Howe started for Worcester, now only 
about fifteen miles away, riding Barnes's horse and surveying 
roads and bridges as well as he could in the darkness. The fact 
that Gage wanted the road survey by Brown and De Berniere 
confirmed shows plainly that he still contemplated a raid on 
Worcester. Howe had specifically asked his host "what he 
thought of an army coming from Boston to Worcester." 

At Worcester, an unnamed Tory, another link in Gage's 
chain, received him, after examining letters from Barnes and 
the general. Hidden in a private room all day, Howe was given 

The Adventures of John Howe 63 

further information as to local militia strength and local muni- 
tion stores and, after dark, personally visited the unguarded 
American magazine. Without any trouble, his well-informed 
Tory host took him to "the place where I could break in" and 
showed him "two old wells hard by," into which British raiders 
could dump the flour and gunpowder. Similar plans had been 
made to destroy military supplies at Concord, though they were 
not fully carried out when the redcoats at last got their hands 
on the patriots' munitions there. 

Howe also inquired into the morale of patriot forces in 
Worcester and near it. His host, exuberantly optimistic, averred 
"he did not think a man dare lift a gun to oppose the regulars.'* 
It was nearly the worst forecast on record! 

No wishful thinking of this sort for John Howe. He had 
already seen enough to know better. Pledging his host to se- 
crecy, Howe "told him if General Gage sent five thousand 
troops, with a train of artillery, from Boston to Worcester, they 
would never one of them get back." There was some exaggera- 
tion in this. Gage sent only eight hundred men to Lexington 
and Concord, and most of them got back to Boston alive 
though very much the worse for wear and only after a reserve 
force with artillery had been sent to their rescue. The events of 
April 19, 1775, showed what would have happened on the 
longer, harder march to Worcester, which Gage was wise 
enough never to attempt. After Lexington and Concord, his 
regulars dared not leave Boston. 

The Tory was greatly cast down at what his guest told him. 
If that was so, he said, "we His Majesty's friends, are in a bad 
situation" which, in the end, proved true. 

In the darkness, Howe "collected up" his papers and started 
back from Worcester to Squire Barnes at Marlboro. With too 
much time to think, he himself began to feel depressed as he 
rode along, like many another agent on a desperate mission: "1 
was now fifty miles from Boston, and in danger of being cap- 
tured every moment. The night was long and dismal, I often 
wished this night that I had never undertaken the business of 
a spy." But luck rode with him: "Nothing particular took place 


during the night," except an unseasonably heavy April snow- 

Reaching Marlboro near dawn, he drew rein for the second 
time at Barnes's door, ate a warm breakfast, and drank some hot 
"sling" (toddy with grated nutmeg). He took the precaution 
of turning his papers over to Barnes (who presumably had a 
safe place to hide them) and went to bed. The cautious Tory 
went off again to the tavern to "see if he could make any dis- 
coveries" and came back about one o'clock with word "that all 
was safe; but it would not be best for me to tarry in his house 
over night." 

After dinner, Howe took over his papers again. It was an 
egregious piece of folly. Long before this, they should have 
been on their way to Gage, in the hands of some safe courier, 
unsuspected, well known to everybody, able to travel openly, 
and with some good reason for visiting Boston. There, through 
a cut-out, they could have been passed on to Gage safely and 
easily. Instead of that, Howe foolishly added to his notes a 
dangerous and minute "account of the militia and ammunition 
from there to Weston, and from this place [Marlboro] to 
Worcester." Barnes had combed out all this information for 
Gage, while Howe had been visiting Worcester. 

Unobtrusively, from an attic window (darkened, let us hope!) 
Barnes pointed out a safe route to Concord, "across the lots and 
the road." Then, retiring to a secluded room, they chatted 
about the chances that British troops could reach Worcester. 
It was a matter very much on both their minds and also on 
General Gage's. A few days later, it was the first question he 
asked his returning spy. 

About eight o'clock that night, the hour when Howe had 
planned to start, there was a knocking at the front door. As 
Barnes rose to answer it, he told the spy to slip out the cham- 
ber window, climb down a shed roof, head for a neighboring 
swamp, and thence make his way to Concord, if he heard any- 
thing suspicious at the door. 

A moment after his host had gone downstairs, Howe heard a 
strange voice saying: "Esq, we have come to search your house 
for spies." 

The Adventures of John Howe 65 

Then he heard Barnes: "I am willing/' 

That was quite enough for the anxious man, listening above. 
Up went the chamber window. Out into six inches of snow he 
crawled, slipped, and fell from the roof to the ground, flat on 
his back. The amateur spy catchers, thundering on the front 
door, had never thought of the elementary precaution of sur- 
rounding the house first. Neither do any of them seem, later, 
to have noticed the trail Howe left in the snow; there is no 
mention of any pursuit, after the searchers had satisfied them- 
selves there was no stranger in the house. 

As he reached the swamp, Howe, looking back at Barnes's 
house, saw "lights dodging at every window" and heard "horses' 
feet in the road, as if great numbers were collecting at the Esq's 
house" providentially obscuring the fugitive's footprints. 

Knocking at a strange house, he found it occupied by a Negro 
and his wife, was invited to stay the night, explained that his 
business was urgent as, indeed, it was offered silver if they 
would put him on the road to Concord. The Negro not un- 
naturally inquired what business could possibly be urgent 
enough to force anyone through such a night afoot. Howe re- 
vived the good old lie that had served so well a few days earlier. 
He had to get to Concord. He was "going to make guns to kill 
the regulars" and ventured the opinion "they would be out of 
Boston in a few weeks." (They were out nine days later.) 

The Negro hesitated. The spy story had now grown into a 
soldier story. The woman said she heard there had been a num- 
ber of regulars around Squire Barnes's house a day or two 
earlier. Howe grasped the awkward situation at once. Was 
Squire Barnes a Tory? Indeed he was! Then, said Howe ven- 
omously, "I hoped they would catch him and hang him." 

As this sounded suitably disloyal to George III, the Negro 
guide set out with him, borrowed a canoe from another Negro 
at the Concord River, paddled his passenger safely across, and 
offered to go a little farther for a little more money. Eventually 
it must have been nearly midnight they came to a tavern 
where the Negro said they could buy rum. They knocked, 
entered, had some brandy instead, and spent the night there. 
In the morning, Howe saw the village of Concord at a little 


distance. Somebody named Wetherly went to Concord with 
him and Introduced him as a gunsmith. A Major Buttrick and 
other gentlemen greeted him as "the very man they wanted to 
see/' found a shop for him, and brought him several gunlpcks, 
which he "repaired with neatness and dispatch, considering the 
tools I had to work with." It was all very convincing. 

After dinner, his confiding American friends took the British 
secret agent to the Concord magazine of military stores, thus 
enabling Howe for the second time to make a direct examina- 
tion of a patriot munitions dump. Eager for his expert opinion, 
they took him inside to see the stores of small arms, ammuni- 
tion and flour. General Gage must have found Howe's oral 
report, a few days later, a useful check on the reports he had 
already received from his regular Concord spies on these same 

Finally getting away from the gullible Concord patriots, on 
the plea that he must go "down East" to fetch his own gun- 
smith's tools, Howe took shelter with a Tory named Gove, at 
Lincoln, only a few miles away, and wrote out the rest of his 
notes. He found that his new benefactor had been in the vi- 
cinity of Barnes's house during the patriots' raid and learned 
for the first time of the tar and feathers the patriots had pre- 
pared. Gove sheltered him in an outhouse that night, gave him 
a final report next morning on a prospective new armory in 
Concord and, after dark, personally drove him to Charlestown. 
By two o'clock he was across the Charles River and safe in his 
own quarters in Boston. 

Putting on his British uniform and starting down the street 
next morning, the triumphant spy met Lieutenant Colonel 
Smith, who greeted him with, "How do you do, John? We 
heard you broke your neck jumping out of Barnes' chamber 
window." (The speed with which this news reached Boston 
points to another intelligence net, serving Gage in Worcester.) 
Going with Smith to report to Gage, Howe turned in his pa- 
pers, was promised a bonus of fifty guineas, and was given one 
guinea immediately, with the injunction, "Take that, John, 
and go and get some liquor, you are not half drunk enough for 
officers' company." 

The Adventures of John Howe 67 

By the time he got back to the commanding general's head- 
quarters, as ordered, at eleven o'clock, a group of senior officers 
had gathered to listen to him. Asked whether British troops 
could reach Worcester, he told Gage ten thousand men could 
not do it which was, incidentally, pure nonsense, but the kind 
o overestimate of enemy strength to which secret agents are 

Upon this, Lieutenant Colonel Smith burst out: "Howe has 
been scared by the old women." 

It gave a splendid opening to Major John Pitcairn, of the 
Royal Marines, who would soon be marching with Smith to 
Lexington and who would die at Bunker Hill. He turned to 

"Not by a black wench, John/* said Major Pitcairn. 

There was a roar of laughter from the assembled officers. 


The Paul Revere Gang 

HOWEVER ACTIVE British espionage may have been, the patriots 
usually knew nearly as much about the British as Gage and his 
staff knew about the patriots. Ever since the autumn of 1774 
(and probably earlier), there had been an organized and active 
American intelligence service in Boston, which continued its 
work until the British evacuation in March of 1776, though 
the personnel inevitably changed, as various members had to 
flee. The American espionage network began as one of those 
volunteer groups of amateur secret agents that spring up natu- 
rally in invaded countries, very like the resistance groups that 
proved so useful to the Allies in World War II. 

This first known American intelligence net was set up by 
Paul Revere and about thirty others, chiefly "mechanics," whose 
purpose, as Revere himself reports, was "watching the move- 
ments of the British soldiers, and gaining every intelligence of 
the movements of the Tories/' As the fateful spring of 1775 
drew on, they "frequently took turns, two and two, to watch the 
soldiers, by patrolling the streets all night/' 

The patriotic plotters had the advantages such improvised 
local spy systems always have. They needed no elaborate cover 
to explain their presence in Boston, being all well-known citi- 


The Paul Revere Gang 69 

zens, established businessmen or tradesmen. Revere himself was 
a distinguished craftsman, whose exquisite silver was already in 
many of the better New England homes. They had friends, 
whose houses could give shelter and concealment in emergen- 
cies. They knew the byways of the city better than any red- 
coated patrols. 

That so many of Revere's fellow "mechanics" took so many 
very long walks at night should have aroused suspicion; but 
such British counterintelligence service as existed failed to note 
what was happening; and, anyhow, all this quiet reconnoissance 
was divided among thirty-odd men, working in pairs. The same 
men were not likely to be out reconnoitering oftener than once 
a fortnight, so that their nocturnal rambles could be made to 
appear suitably casual. 

Unfortunately, the group had the faults as well as the ad- 
vantages and enthusiasms of amateur secret agents. The one 
fundamental rule in all such organizations is that the various 
agents must not know one another; but the eager Bostonian 
spy net, instead of guarding the anonymity of its agents, held 
regular meetings at the Green Dragon Tavern, which included 
the whole network. Though well aware of the need of secrecy, 
they had no idea how to get it. All they could think of was to 
take an oath at every meeting, swearing to reveal their work to 
no one except Hancock, Adams, Warren, one or two others 
and Doctor Church! 

Fortunately for the American cause, General Gage and the 
diabolical doctor let slip this perfect chance to wipe out the 
patriot intelligence service. The Gage papers, though filled 
with Church's reports, contained nothing to indicate he ever 
betrayed the patriot spies who trusted him or any of the infor- 
mation they collected. The reason is now forever beyond dis- 
covery. A series of swift arrests about April 17, 1775, might 
have kept America in the British Empire forever. 

Though they knew a good deal about Revere's activity as a 
messenger for the patriots, the British seem to have had no 
idea how much espionage he and his associates were carrying 
on. When he carried messages to the Provincial Congress of 
New Hampshire in January, 1775, General Gage noted: "Paul 


Revere went express thither/' adding, "it protends a storm 
rather than peace." On April 14, a British spy in Concord re- 
ported: "Last Saturday the 7th of April P: R: toward eve- 
ning arrived at Concord carrying a letter that was said to be 

from Mr. W n"~ i.e., Dr. Joseph Warren. But there is not a 

word about patriot espionage. 

Just how the intelligence collected by the Revere network 
reached the patriot leaders is by no means clear. The spy ring 
was in close touch with Doctor Warren, who may have been its 
leader; and Revere himself was in touch with Colonel William 
Conant, across the river in Charlestown, and with patriot lead- 
ers in Concord. Probably information was passed orally to 
Warren, Conant, the Adamses and Doctor Church. 

The Revere ring had its failures as well as its successes. It 
did not detect plans for the swift British raid on Charlestown, 
September i, 1774, probably because at that time the patriot 
espionage system was just beginning. Before patriots in Charles- 
town could be warned, a force of two hundred and sixty British 
regulars crossed the Charles, went up the Mystic River, de- 
stroyed gunpowder and other stores and were safely away be- 
fore any patriots even guessed they had left Boston. Thousands 
of indignant colonists swarmed into Charlestown, too late. 
Their fury, however, was so evident that Revere remarks in a 
letter to a friend that the British "troops have the horrors 
amazingly by reason of some late movements of our friends in 
thte country." It is interesting to note that he understood the 
importance of enemy morale. 

When, in early December, 1774, the Revere gang learned 
that Gage meant to send two regiments to Portsmouth, New 
Hampshire, where British munitions were stored, Revere car- 
ried prompt warning. A few men sailed down the river in a 
"gundalow" that night, waded ashore, overpowered the small 
garrison after a few shots, and carried off about a hundred 
barrels of gunpowder, some of which, according to tradition, 
was used at Bunker Hill Next day, another raid carried off 

The American spies were able to steal or damage a great 
deal of British artillery in and around Boston. In Charlestown, 

The Paul Revere Gang 71 

all the guns were stolen from the local coast-defense battery, 
hidden for a few days, then carried secretly into the country. 
On September 15, 1774, American secret agents "spiked up" 
all the guns in the North Battery in Boston itself. A local di- 
arist has an entry for September 20, 1774: "Some cannon re- 
moved by the men-of-war's men from the mill-pond." It is 
hard to see why this ordnance happened to be reposing at the 
bottom of the pond, unless patriotic Bostonians had tossed it 
there. As the Mill Pond was near the North Battery, it looks as 
if the raiders fiung the lighter guns into the water, after spiking 
those which were too heavy to move. 

At about the same time, two brass field guns disappeared 
from Major Adino Paddock's Tory artillery "company." The 
major put his two remaining guns under guard, the result be- 
ing that they, too, promptly disappeared. All this was the work 
of a well-organized gang of saboteurs with wagons. It takes a 
good many men to steal a whole battery of field guns, and a 
good organization to conceal them afterwards. A strong sus- 
picion still lingers that Revere's friend, the patriotic tanner, 
William Dawes, was not very far away when some of these 
things happened. 

He was certainly involved in a gun-running episode which 
may have been the one in which Major Paddock's guns were 
stolen or may have been still another raid. The schoolmaster, 
Abraham Holbrook, William Dawes, and four others pried 
planks from the rear of a house used as a gun shed in 
West Street, Boston, so quietly that the British sentry on guard 
over the house never noticed. They removed the barrels fine 
brass tubes cast in England and carried them to Holbrook's 
schoolhouse, near at hand, where they were concealed in a 
wooden box. British officers had inspected the gun shed half 
an hour before the guns vanished. Later, the barrels were taken 
to the American lines, where wooden mounts were easily im- 
provised. A spy's report to Gage in May, 1775, notes that the 
colonists have moved all their guns from Concord to Cam- 
bridge, "Excepting the four that ware Paddocks." Yet, amid 
all this patriotic burglary, the Americans never found two old 


would go, as Longfellow's poem has it, "by sea." There was 
no "sea" route to inland Lexington. Longfellow just needed 
to finish a stanza with a rhyme for the line "I on the opposite 
shore will be," but even that was wrong. Revere did not wait 
on the opposite shore; he was still in the city of Boston and 
very busy, when the lanterns flared in the Old North Church 
steeple. In fact, he helped hang them. Or, at least, he went as 
far as the church door with the man who did hang them. The 
lanterns were meant as a signal to Colonel Conant, not to 
Revere, who knew already exactly what was happening. 

The light signals had been agreed on in advance, because, 
as Revere said after the war, "we were apprehensive it would 
be difficult to cross the Charles or get over Boston Neck." In 
other words, Gage might be expected to station guards and 
send out patrols to cut off communication along Boston Neck, 
Admiral Graves would probably keep guard boats moving, to 
stop any American boats that tried to slip across the Charles. 
If no patriot messenger could get out of Boston, the lanterns 
would still give the news. 

Having made all arrangements, Revere went placidly home. 
He had for some months had a boat safely hidden away for use 
on just such missions as the one he would undertake that night. 

General Gage still expected no trouble. He thought his men 
could reach Concord, destroy American munitions, and be 
safely back before the alarm could spread; but this time Doctor 
Church and the other spies had failed the British commander. 
Either Revere did not tell the doctor what he was doing or 
Church had failed to send Gage a report. Headquarters in 
Boston had no way of knowing that the minutemen had been 
alerted for two or three days, or that many of the stores at Con- 
cord had already been moved. 

The patriots, on the other hand, at this critical moment, were 
very well informed indeed. Everyone in Boston knew, almost 
at once, where the redcoats were going. British officers in Bos- 
ton, professional soldiers though they were, talked carelessly. 
Their laxity was especially dangerous because many were living 
in American private homes, where everything they did or said 
was observed and reported. Major John Pitcairn was living 

The Paut Revere Gang 75 

almost next door to Paul Revere. Less suitable quarters could 
hardly have been chosen for the marine officer who was to be 
second in command on the march to Lexington. 

British enlisted personnel, even though not billeted in Bos- 
ton homes, were in close touch with Boston people. Some 
soldiers' wives worked as servants. That w y as why one red- 
coated sergeant, when he could not find a soldier named Gib- 
son, thought he knew what to do. The sergeant left word with 
the American woman who employed Mrs. Gibson as a house- 
maid. Gibson was to report "at the bottom of the Common" 
(modern Charles Street) at eight o'clock. The sergeant was 
foolish enough to add that Private Gibson was to be "equipped 
for an expedition." When the missing soldier appeared, the 
shrewd and loyal American housewife tried to get a few more 
facts out of him. 

"Oh, Gibson, what are you going to do?" 

Perhaps Gibson knew more about security than anybody else 
in Gage's army; perhaps he was just badly informed. Whatever 
the reason, he made a model reply: "Ah, madam, I know as 
little as you do." 

The patriotic lady tried to inform the patriot organization; 
but her quick-thinking loyalty did very little good. She told 
her husband, who sent the news to Doctor Church at his house, 
near by. 

Happily, British preparations for the march were equally 
apparent elsewhere. It is always practically impossible to con- 
ceal the fact that troops are about to move. It is, however, pos- 
sible to isolate the area in which they are preparing. D Day in 
1944 was a complete surprise to the German Army, because all 
communications from Great Britain, even diplomatic dis- 
patches, were suddenly and completely cut off. 

Just as Paul Revere had expected, the British command tried 
to cut off Boston in the same way, but not very adequately. 
H.M.S. Somerset was anchored in the mouth of the Charles 
River, to block the patriots' water communications, and failed. 
Officer patrols were sent out to intercept American couriers, 
but caught only one, Revere himself. The Neck, connecting 


Boston with the mainland, was blocked unsuccessfully, though 
It was only sixty yards wide. 

Worse still, the loose talk in Boston continued. Officers, mak- 
ing sure their horses were ready for the coming night march, 
foolishly chattered about "hell to pay tomorrow." A groom at 
the Province House is said to have heard them and talked to a 
hostler, who rushed to Revere. 

"You are the third person who has brought me the same 
information/' said he, then warned the boy to remain silent. 
Dr. Joseph Warren also had the news. 

Lord Percy (who next day would command the relief column 
sent out to rescue Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith at Lexing- 
ton), after leaving Gage at the Province House that evening, 
walked down through the dusk of the Common to see the 
troops embark. He was not recognized a scarlet uniform cov- 
ered by a cloak looked at night very much like civilian cloth- 

Suddenly, he heard a voice from the darkness: 

"The British troops have marched, but will miss their aim." 

"What aim?" asked the startled nobleman. 

"Why, the cannon at Concord," said the voice. 

Percy hurried back to his commander to report. The secret 
had leaked in Boston. It might not yet be known at the objec- 
tive in Concord. No matter what had happened, it was too late 
now to halt the raid. 

One early history of the Revolution says that the first warn- 
ing of the march to Lexington came from "a daughter of liberty 
unequally yoked in point of politics." This was at once taken 
for a reference to Mrs. Gage, who was of American birth. It is 
true that she felt keenly her anomalous position and, horrified 
by the slaughter at Bunker Hill, is said to have quoted sadly 
the words of Blanch, in Shakespeare's King John: 

Which is the side that I must go withal? 
I am with both; each army hath a hand; 
And in their rage, I having hold of both, 
They whirl asunder and dismember me. 
Husband, I cannot pray that thou mayst win. . . . 

The Paul Revere Gang 77 

But there is not a scrap of evidence that she ever betrayed a 
military secret or knew one. 

When Dr. Joseph Warren was sure that the troops were actu- 
ally falling in on the Common, he started William Dawes, on 
horse, down Boston Neck. Though the road was cut off, the 
sentry at the roadblock happened to be a friend, who let Dawes 
through. About ten o'clock, Doctor Warren sent for Revere. 
He knew that, though Hancock and Samuel Adams had been 
warned two days earlier, they were still lingering at Parson 
Clark's in Lexington. As Dawes might not get through, Revere 
would have to carry a second warning. 

First, however, those lanterns in the Old North Church. For 
though Paul Revere on the opposite shore would not be, Colo- 
nel Conant certainly would be somewhere near the river bank 
or in sight of the steeple, and wide awake. Revere hunted up 
his friend Robert Newman, sexton of the church, who was ex- 
pecting him. Newman lived with his mother, in whose house 
British officers were quartered. He tactfully went to bed early, 
slipped out through a window, crossed a roof, and dropped 
into the darkened street, where he waited in the shadows till 
Paul Revere stealthily arrived. Together, they collected John 
Pulling, a vestryman of the church; and probably also Revere's 
neighbor, Thomas Barnard. Lanterns were stored at the 
church. One of the groupprobably Newman, though a case 
has been made out for Pulling slipped up the stairs, past the 
eight bells of the church, and on to the top of the belfry. 

How long the two lanterns were displayed, no one knows. 
It cannot have been very long, for Pulling was "afraid that some 
old woman would see the light and scream fire " and the look- 
out on H.M.S. Somerset, in the river below, might raise an 
alarm at any moment. Indeed, there must have been some kind 
of disturbance in front of the church very soon, since Newman, 
instead of leaving by the church door, through which he had 
come, left through a back window. Slipping quietly home, he 
returned by the roof-and-window route to his bedroom, where 
he lay awake, too excited to sleep, listening to the British offi- 
cers, laughing over their card game in the room downstairs. 

As soon as the British learned of the signals, Newman was 


arrested. Under Interrogation, he was elaborately innocent. 
What had he done? Pulling had asked him for the keys. Yes, 
it was late at night. But Pulling was a vestryman, Newman 
only the sexton. What could a mere sexton do, after a vestry- 
man had given orders? He had turned over the keys and gone 
to bed. He really had gone to bed. The officers living in the 
house could testify to that, if anybody asked themand some- 
body probably did. Newman, it is true, hadn't stayed in bed; 
but none o his interrogators knew that; and in the end they 
believed him at least, they released him. 

Newman could say what he pleased without endangering his 
companion, Pulling. A neighbor's wife had long since brought 
the vestryman warning that "he had better leave town as soon 
as possible with his family." Pulling was already where the 
British could not get their hands on him. 

After returning safely to his own house in North Square, 
Revere had difficulty leaving again on his next errand. Troops 
had fallen in near it and were allowing no one to leave. Some- 
how, Revere got away in spite of them; but he went without 
spurs which might have been hard to explain if he had been 
stopped. His dog followed him out of the house. 

Meantime, the boat builder, Joshua Bentley, and one Thomas 
Richardson were waiting to row him across the Charles. Ob- 
viously these men, as well as Newman and Pulling, were all 
part of Revere's group of patriotic "mechanics" and spies. 

Suddenly the trio remembered they would need cloth to 
muffle the oars. One of Revere's companions knew a girl. She 
lived at the corner of North and North Centre streets. At a 
very special whistle, the young lady's window went up quietly. 
There were some whispers. Then a flannel petticoat fluttered 
down from the window. Revere used to tell his children, ap- 
preciatively, that it was still warm. 

So far the story is credible enough, but Revere also used to 
tell his children that he sent the dog home with a note to his 
wife and the sagacious animal presently returned with his spurs. 

Silently the oars, muffled with the flannel petticoat of the 
self-sacrificing patriot maiden, took the little craft past the 
looming bulk of Somerset, with her sixty-four guns. The look- 

The Paul Revere Gang 79 

out and the officer of the deck failed to see it. Admiral Graves's 
sailors were ferrying the regulars across the Charles, or getting 
ready to do so. They, too, saw nothing. 

A group of patriot leaders were already waiting at Colonel 
Conant's home in Charlestown when Revere arrived from Bos- 
ton. They had seen the two lights in the Old North steeple, 
though the signals had really been needless. Even before they 
shone out, Richard Devens, of the committee, knew "that the 
enemy were all in motion and were certainly preparing to 
come out into the country/' It was now apparent that they 
would move against Concord. The lights, according to Devens, 
confirmed this "soon afterward/' since they showed the enemy 
meant to cross the Charles. 

Richard Devens had had an adventurous night. The Ameri- 
can Committees of Safety and Supplies had been meeting on 
the eighteenth at Wetherby's Tavern and perhaps also at Ne- 
well's Tavern in Menotomy, now West Cambridge, or Arling- 
ton. Elbridge Gerry and some others lodged there; but Devens, 
with a friend, had started for Charlestown in a chaise. 

A suspiciously large number of British officers had dined 
in Cambridge that night; and as Devens and his friend had 
come down the road, they had passed "a great number" of 
them, far too many to be natural. More suspicious still, the 
officers had stopped the chaise to ask about "Clark's tavern/' 
There was no Clark's tavern, but Hancock and Adams were 
still at Clark's parsonage. These redcoats seemed to know a 
great deal too much. 

Devens drove on a little distance, just for the look of the 
thing, then turned his horse around and drove back the way he 
had come, passing straight through the group of mounted offi- 
cers for a second time, without hindrance. He reached the 
tavern in time to watch the officers ride by. Gerry then sent 
a messenger to Hancock with word that "eight or nine officers 
were out suspected of some evil design." Even then, Hancock 
did not leave Lexington, but calmly sent back word that the 
officers had already ridden harmlessly through Lexington on 
their way to Concord and that he would warn the village. 

Turning back once more, Devens proceeded placidly to Colo- 


nel Conant's and was there before Revere arrived, (Probably 
Dawes had warned either Conant at Charlestown or Gerry at 
Menotomy.) The group of officers Devens had seen were prob- 
ably the patrol, led by Major Mitchell, who caught Revere later 
that night and nearly caught Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott. 

There was a hasty consultation at Conant's house. Though 
Gerry had already sent a warning to Hancock, he could not be 
sure the messenger would reach him. Revere would have to 
make another ride and he would need a good horse. John 
Larkin, a wealthy citizen, turned over the best nag he owned. 

Everyone knows the rest of that story: how Revere, almost 
caught near Cambridge, escaped cross-country; how he "alar- 
umed almost every house"; how Hancock wanted to stay in 
Lexington and fight; how William Dawes rode up to the Rev- 
erend Mr. Clark's, half an hour after Revere; how Revere and 
Dawes rode toward Concord together with that gay young 
spark, Dr. Samuel Prescott, who had been courting a girl in 
Lexington; how Revere was caught and Dawes driven off, while 
Doctor Prescott jumped a fence and got through to Concord 
with a warning; how Dawes lost his watch in the excitement, 
thriftily retrieving it a few days later. 

Eventually the officers took Larkin's horse and left Revere 
on foot, to get back to Lexington as best he might. He arrived 
at the parsonage, for the second time, to find Hancock still full 
of fight. It was dawn before they got the pugnacious statesman 
started toward Woburn, and on to Congress in Philadelphia. 
Revere helped hide Hancock's papers. The British officer who 
had captured and released him, Major Mitchell, rode back 
from Lexington, met the advancing British troops, and re- 
ported to Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith, commanding the 
column, that he "had taken Paul Revierre but was obliged to 
lett him go." (There was really no charge on which to hold the 

Somewhere ahead of the British, young John Howe, Gage's 
favorite secret agent, had again donned "Yankee dress" and 
was already out rousing the Tories, as Revere had been rousing 
the patriots. 

Around them, in the night, the advancing British troops 

The Paul Revere Gang 81 

could hear alarm guns, church bells and drums. Their effort 
at surprise had plainly failed. There was sure to be a fight now, 
and more troops would be needed. After listening to Major 
Mitchell's story, Colonel Smith sent a courier back to General 
Gage, asking for Lord Percy and the reserve eight hundred 
more redcoats, this time with artillery. The patrolling officers 
turned around again and rode back to Lexington, guiding 
Major Pitcaim and six companies of light infantry, who were 
pushed ahead of the main body. 

Unknown to them, as they approached the Lexington Com- 
mon, Paul Revere looked down from a window in Buckman's 
tavern. Somewhere in Lexington, two spies of Louis XVI, King 
of France, were quietly watching, too. 


Spies at the Siege of Boston 

WHILE THE BRITISH, after the defeat at Lexington and Concord, 
were besieged in Boston, General Gage's secret service con- 
tinued business as usual. American espionage was equally active, 
though handicapped by the loss of Paul Revere, who no longer 
dared enter the city, and of Dr. Joseph Warren, who had fled in 
time to escape arrest, only to be killed at Bunker Hill. 

Lieutenant Colonel Kemble, Gage's adjutant general and 
chief intelligence officer, had to make a few changes in his 
organization. With the rebels blocking all approaches to Bos- 
ton, it became too dangerous for officers to venture forth, out 
of uniform, as they had been doing. Local civilian agents had 
to take over, though months afterward General Washington 
still feared the enemy might send "trusty soldiers, sergeants, 
and even commissioned officers in disguise," to spy upon the 
Continental Army. 

Doctor Church, still unsuspected, continued his usual espio- 
nage. Within two weeks after the battle, on April thirtieth, he 
sent General Gage a report on American strength ten thousand 
men, already in arms with a warning that eventually the four 
New England colonies would enlist thirty thousand, a figure 
which grossly exaggerated the rebels' real prospects. The paper- 


Spies at the Siege of Boston 83 

work of the hastily organized patriot army was so confused that 
it is impossible now to tell its exact strength; but it is doubtful 
whether all the American forces in Cambridge ever much ex- 
ceeded fifteen thousand or sixteen thousand. Church was much 
more accurate when, in May, he warned Gage that the rebels 
would seize Bunker Hill (which they did occupy, together with 
Breed's Hill, in June); and would build fortifications on Dor- 
chester Heights (which eventually forced Gage's successor to 
evacuate Boston). 

Church and other British spies carefully noted that the Amer- 
icans had begun to build boats and were getting together a 
small fleet of the whaleboats common in New England coastal 
towns. Throughout the war, intelligence agents on both sides 
were greatly interested in the number of small boats the enemy 
possessed, especially those that hostile columns carried with 
them on wheels. When Americans built or assembled boats 
outside Boston and, later, outside New York, the British com- 
mand immediately expected attack. 

During the siege of Boston, British spies wandered about the 
patriot camps at will. An undated report, probably made in 
April or May of 1775, shows that a secret agent from Boston 
"got into Roxbury" without trouble; observed the rebel troops 
there; watched rebel artillery at drill; then rode on to Cam- 
bridge, observing the troops that marched past him on the 
road; counted the tents (not over twenty) in one small camp; 
and examined artillery and artillery trains in Cambridge itself. 
When the troops in Cambridge barracks piously fell in for 
prayers, the spy seized this edifying occasion to estimate their 
number at three thousand a figure not meant to include troops 
on duty on the lines. After this, he hurried back to Roxbury to 
observe more patriot troops in formation for prayers not over 
four hundred, there, he thought. Pausing only to note ten four- 
pounder field guns near Roxbury meeting house, he sat down 
to prepare his report for the British command. 

When, toward the end of May, the Americans planned to 
raid Hog Island and Noddle's Island (then in Boston Harbor, 
now part of the East Boston mainland), General Gage was fully 
informed, from some mysterious source, a day ahead of time. 


The ferryboat which continued to ply from Winnisimet 
(Chelsea) to Cambridge during the summer of 1775, was a god- 
send to Gage's spies. One agent, recorded only as ''the depo- 
nent" or " ," managed to get aboard this craft and make 

contact with a secretly pro-British Boston butcher serving in 
the American artillery. This man, he reported in early August, 
did "not much like" the American cause and was corresponding 
with a sergeant of the royal artillery in Boston. From ^ the 
treacherous butcher and from his own observation, this British 
spy was able to report the personal movements of Generals 
Washington, Lee and Putnam; artillery emplacements; strength 
and exact location of guard detachments; movements of ammu- 
nition; oxen put out by the rebels to decoy the redcoats into 
ambush; floating batteries; whaleboats; fortifications; the 
strength of riflemen; and total American strength. The British 
spy had one pleasant chat with the unsuspicious General Israel 
Putnam; and, as he sometimes dined with the captain of the 
American guard, he was able to get General Washington's or- 
ders and a good deal of other information, though he was wise 
enough not to dine with the careless captain when General 
Washington was present. A blacksmith in Mystic served as one 
of his subagents. 

There was a certain irony in British spies' penetration in 
Roxbury and at the ferry. In March, 1776 much too late- 
General Washington was urging special precautions against 
enemy agents in Roxbury and "the different landing-places 
nearest the shipping." But this was only after the British had 
evacuated the city, and this danger was over. General Wash- 
ington was worrying about spies the enemy might leave behind 
them; he never guessed how many secret agents had already 
bored into his army. 

While he was penned up in Boston, General Gage contrived 
to receive a good deal of information from other colonies, his 
communications being greatly assisted by command of the sea. 
Immediately after hostilities began, devoted loyalists outside 
Massachusetts began to pour information in to him. Most of 
these spies seem to have been volunteers, eager to aid the king's 
cause, but not part of the regular intelligence system. One 

Spies at the Siege of Boston 85 

eager Tory, living near New York, went to Greenwich, Con- 
necticut, to make sure hostilities had really begun. As soon as 
he had verified the news from Lexington and Concord, he 
realized that intelligence of troop movements outside Massa- 
chusetts would be valuable to Gage, and went on to Newport, 
where he tried to get Captain Wallace, of HJM.S. Rose, to take 
him to Boston. Failing in this, he started overland, found lie 
could not get beyond Dedham, Massachusetts, and went all the 
way back to Newport, where Captain Wallace finally took him 
aboard. When he reached Boston in May, he brought news o 
troop movements through Connecticut and notes on the stub- 
born mood of the rebels. 

Another volunteer secret agent of the same sort, known only 
by the initials "W.C.," after watching the march of American 
troops through Goshen, Orange County, New York, managed 
to send word to Gage, before he was caught by indignant 
patriots and forced to drink a toast to the damnation of Lord 
North, the Prime Minister, under threats of flogging, tar and 

Beginning in May and running through July, the British 
commander received a series of very early secret reports about 
a new American device, "that would effectually distroy the 
Royal Navy." This was "Bushnell's Turtle/' a primitive subma- 
rine invented by David Bushnell, of Saybrook, Connecticut, 
an engineer officer, which was later tried out against British 
men-of-war. British tars were greatly surprised when the 
strange, turnip-shaped object bobbed up out of the water, but 
it did no damage. The same unknown spy who reported it was 
also able to give a great deal of information about General 
Charles Lee's proposed troop movements at Philadelphia. 

In early September, intelligence "from no bad quarter" en- 
abled Gage to warn William Tryon, royal governor of New 
York, of patriot plans to kidnap Tryon himself, "and every 
Governor and Officer of Government on the Continent." This 
was the first of an interminable series of kidnaping plots, in 
which both sides engaged for the next five years, a few of which 
were successful. 

Three British spies had already been working for Gage in 


Pennsylvania for some time. Joseph Galloway, supposedly a 
patriot leader there, had been spying on the Continental Con- 
gress in Philadelphia, just as Church had been spying on the 
Provincial Congress in Massachusetts. How early this began, 
there is no telling; but on May 12, 1775, Galloway was able to 
smuggle to Gage, through the lines of the American besiegers 
outside Boston, a report that Benjamin Franklin, just back 
from England, was already advocating independence and had 
warned the Continental Congress that the royal government 
was embarking four thousand troops to reinforce the Boston 
garrison. Galloway, or someone else, had been making earlier 
reports on Franklin, for, only a few days after Lexington, Gen- 
eral Gage as yet unaware of Franklin's return ordered the 
captain of a vessel leaving Boston with mail to wait till he was 
far out at sea; then to examine all letters addressed to Franklin 
and a few other Americans abroad; and to send the letters back 
to Boston, Other suspicious letters were to be turned over to 
the government in London, as "they might contain some intel- 
ligence of the Rebels here." 

Dr. John Kearsley-a violent Tory, manufacturer of "Kears- 
ley's pills/' horse trader, physician, and proprietor of a vinegar 
factorywas collecting intelligence in Philadelphia for the gov- 
ernment in London, perhaps sending his dispatches through 
Gage's hands. Co-operating with him in some way was John 
Brooks, of Skenesborough, New Hampshire, eminently respect- 
able, "accustomed to dress very genteelly," who was engaged in 
espionage between Albany and Philadelphia for both Gage and 

The Americans arrested both these men and imprisoned 
them at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, October 5, 1775, though 
Brooks had probably been under quiet American surveillance 
since May. Brooks escaped in 1777. Kearsley suffered so much 
in prison at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, that he died the day after 
his release. Just what Mrs. Kearsley was doing in 1775-1778 
no one is ever likely to find out now; but, whatever it was, to 
the British Army it was worth $214.16 from secret service 
funds, and a permanent pension of 100. 

Not all the intelligence Gage received was accurate. The 

Spies at the Siege of Boston 87 

most successful hoax of the Revolution was perpetrated by 
Georgia patriots, who planted false information on the British 
commander in Boston. James Wright, the royal governor in 
Georgia, had written both General Gage and Admiral Graves 
asking for a warship to overawe the rebels. The Georgia Secret 
Committee stole his letters, opened them, and inserted forgeries 
of their own composition. These new documents assured both 
the general and the admiral all was so quiet in Georgia that no 
British naval support would be needed against the rebels. 
Since the British had also been alarmed about gunpowder in 
Georgia, the letters were reassuring on that point, too. The 
powder would be used merely to give Indians their usual sup- 
ply for hunting, the forged letters declared. 

Governor Wright had really reported that there was "no 
probability of quietude* ' in Georgia, and had asked Admiral 
Graves for "immediate assistance," at the very least "a sloop 
of war of some sort." He also expressed alarm lest the patriots 
seize his gunpowder. In the secret committee's forgeries, Gage 
was told, "No danger is to be apprehended/ 5 after which the 
patriot committeemen added that the apparent rebellion was 
"by no means real," and that there was "nothing formidable 
in the proceedings or designs of our neighbors of South Caro- 
lina." To send British troops or ships would "totally destroy 
the present favorable appearances." Governor Wright's real 
letter to Admiral Graves, asking for naval support at once, was 
revised to read: "I now have not any occasion for any vessel of 

Not content to forge Wright's signature, the wily rebels made 
an impression of the governor's seal in moist clay and forged 
that, too. An unverifiable legend has it that when they met in 
London some time later, Wright complained to Gage of the 
failure to send warships. Only then did the British general 
guess what had happened. Whether that is true or not, the 
fraud had been discovered by January 3, 1776, when Governor 
Wright ruefully told the story to the Earl of Dartmouth. 
Rarely has espionage had such clear and far-reaching conse- 
quences. Wright was sure Georgia could have been held for 
the crown with four or five hundred men. 


American espionage, penetrating into Boston, achieved quite 
as many successes as British espionage upon the rebels in and 
around Cambridge, though General Washington at first had 
no agents except the remnants of Paul Revere's group. Revere's 
friend William Dawes is said to have been able to go in and 
out of beleaguered Boston almost weekly; and there are tales 
of a patriotic barber who used to swim the Charles, bearing 
military intelligence. John Games, a Boston grocer, spied for 
Colonel Loammi Baldwin, while protected by two cut-outs. 
Baldwin's queries were handed to a man named Dewksbury, 
who lived about four miles from the colonel's station in Chel- 
sea. From Dewksbury they went to an unknown ''waterman/' 
whose boat took him to Carnes in Boston; and the secret intelli- 
gence came back the same way. 

These men, or others like them, smuggled Paul Revere's 
engraving equipment out of Boston, so that he could begin 
making Continental and Massachusetts currency at Watertown. 
Mrs. Revere, who remained in Boston, made the mistake of 
trusting Doctor Church (whom everyone still regarded as a 
sterling patriot) with a letter and 125 for her husband. Noth- 
ing more was ever heard of Rachel Revere's letter until it 
turned up among General Gage's papers a few years ago 
and nothing has ever been heard of the 125. 

Since he was turning in his espionage reports to Dr. Joseph 
Warren, the American schoolmaster-spy, James Lovell (whose 
father, John Lovell, spied for the British) must also be re- 
garded as part of the original Revere spy ring, which worked 
closely with the doctor. Lovell remained busy with espionage 
in Boston until the British, searching Doctor Warren's body 
after he had been killed at Bunker Hill, found some of the 
spy's "billets." They arrested young Lovell on June 29, 1775, 
but, instead of hanging him, sent him as a prisoner to Halifax. 
Exchanged later, he sat in the Continental Congress and be- 
came its leading specialist in codes and ciphers. 

Admiral Graves's willingness to let fishing boats operate, to 
increase Boston's food supply, made it easy to smuggle Yankee 
spies into the city. The Tory proprietor of a Boston dram- 
shop reported to General Gage that, when the boats went 

Spies at the Siege of Boston 89 

out with British passes for four men, they really carried three 
genuine fishermen and one patriot spy. "As soon as they get 
below," said the Tory (evidently meaning some point on the 
coast below Boston Harbor) the crew landed the spy and 
took aboard another in his place. The agents, thus smuggled 
into the British lines, picked up information, then returned 
to the Americans. This had begun as early as May or June, 
1775. Active in the work were two American agents named 
Goodwin and Hopkins "as bad Rebels as any" who were 
helping smuggle men in and out of Boston, sometimes in 
disguise. When they themselves visited the city, they always 
spent their time "up in Town," gathering intelligence. Once, 
they were incautious enough to let the owner of the dram- 
shop hear them talking "as high as any man in the Province 
against Government"; but, though this fact was immediately 
reported to Gage, there is no record of their arrest. 

One of these fishermen, George Robert Twelves Hewes, 
after evading suspicion by supplying fish to the British fleet 
for nine weeks, quietly landed at Lynn, Massachusetts, and was 
taken overland to General Washington. The intelligence he 
brought delighted the general. "He didn't laugh to be sure, 
but looked amazing good natured" and invited Hewes and 
his small crew to dinner. Martha Washington "waited upon 
them at table all dinner-time and was remarkably social." 
Unhappily, Hewes telling the story to his biographer in his 
old age, forgot to tell what intelligence he supplied. 

Soon after Lovell's arrest, General Washington took steps 
to get a paid secret agent of his own into Boston. On July 
15, .1775, less than two weeks after the general had taken 
command, his accounts show the entry: 

To 333 1/3 Dollars given to * to enduce him to go 

into the Town of Boston; to establish a secret 
corrispondence for the purpose of movements 
and designs. 

At the bottom of the page is a note: 

* The names of Persons who are employed within the 


Eneinys lines, or who may fail within their power cannot 
be inserted 

an excellent rule, though the general did not observe It con- 
sistently. There was also a mysterious man named Hichborne, 
whom the general paid for espionage, but of whom nothing 
else is known. 

In addition to intelligence, one daring patriot contrived 
to smuggle munitions, which the rebels badly needed, out of 
Boston, even after the siege began. Desperate for provisions, 
Gage allowed some farmers to bring produce into the city. 
Among them was George Minot, of Dorchester, who, after 
entering the British lines with vegetables, managed to smuggle 
gunpowder out to Washington on the return journey. When 
he was allowed to make two more trips into Boston with an 
ox team, he brought back a four-pounder field gun each time, 
with the assistance of a Negro servant, and the connivance of 
patriotic Boston selectmen. 

Before long, General Washington had a spy system that 
extended as far as Nova Scotia, while Benedict Arnold was 
sending spies of his own into Canada. This espionage was 
at first meant to facilitate the invasion of Canada in 1776, 
but it was kept up throughout the war. Washington's papers 
show that he continued to receive various reports from the north 
and at one time had a plan of Halifax Harbor; but the work of 
these spies led to no further military action, after the invasion 
of Canada had failed. 

The two French intelligence agents who had watched the 
fight at Lexington, entering the American camp in Cambridge 
some time before General Washington's arrival to take com- 
mand, carefully studied the improvised American forces some- 
what scandalized by the lax, unmilitary methods that they 
found. These French spies were Achard de Bonvouloir and 
the Chevalier d'Amboise, who had come up from the West 
Indies and had for some "time been touring the colonies, col- 
lecting information useful to the government of Louis XVI. 
Bonvouloir was then or laterworking for the French embassy 
in London; and D'Amboise was almost certainly engaged in 

Spies at the Siege of Boston gi 

the same service, though both men may have begun their anti- 
British espionage In the American colonies as volunteers, with- 
out official orders. They stayed with the American forces only 
a little while, to watch the first stages o the siege of Boston 
and form an estimate of the rebel army, then hurried off 
not to Paris, but to London, to report to the French ambas- 

Obviously pleased with the intelligence they brought, the 
ambassador was soon suggesting to Bonvouloir that he had 
better cross the Atlantic again, to find out "ce qui se passer a 
en Amerique parmi les Americaines" 

Though the pair had passed undetected through the colonies, 
British counterintelllgence in London spotted them at once, 
and one of its agents was turning In a full report on both 
men by August 6, 1775. The British agent thought he had 
plied Bonvouloir with enough champagne to loosen the French- 
man's tongue but he underestimated the strength of Bonvou- 
loir 's head. The British spy never noticed that, while the 
French spy made the usual criticisms of the raw American 
troops, he let slip not a word of anything he knew about the 
British forces. Bonvouloir went back to America in Septem- 
ber, 1775, and, posing as an Antwerp merchant, was soon deep 
in consultation with the Committee of Secret Correspondence, 
with regard to the possibility of French aid to the patriots. 

All this was part of the survey of British armaments that 
the French had begun during the French and Indian War 
and had continued vigorously ever since. Already they had 
full information on British arsenals, naval strength, number 
and location of regiments, the military geography of the south- 
ern English counties, where invaders might land, and the de- 
fensive capabilities of the East and West Indies. Sad to say, 
when naval war began in America, it was discovered too late 
that no French naval intelligence agent had learned that the 
larger French men-of-war could not enter New York harbor. 

Nevertheless, the French intelligence service had long paid 
special attention to the material resources of North America 
and the mood of the colonists; and a British historian has 
said that French naval intelligence reports on the British Navy 


were more accurate than the speeches of the First Lord of 
the Admiralty. 

The French government, though smarting from Its defeat 
in the French and Indian War, was still perfectly neutral 
and was maintaining a correct diplomatic attitude. Still, if 
the rebellion showed signs of strength; if the British proved 
unable to crush it promptly; if a supply of uniforms, arms and 
ammunition might help the rebels well, who knew what might 
happen later? At any rate, it could do no harm to have a 
French secret agent find out what the American rebels really 

Bonvouloir's was really one of the most important secret 
missions of the war. It seemed of small importance at the 
time just one more task for one more spy; but it was the first, 
hesitating step toward French intervention, which led to York- 
town and victory. 


* * * 

Kidnaping George Washington 

ON MARCH 17, 1776, the British evacuated Boston, and the 
American troops entered, a little hesitantly, since they could 
still see British sentries at their poststhough these turned out 
to be nothing but dummies in scarlet coats. That afternoon, 
a triumphant army chaplain preached from a long text, be- 
ginning: "The Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of 

The trouble was, the Egyptians didn't flee far enough. Their 
fleet lingered for several days at anchor, just off Boston, though 
the winds were fair. Why didn't they go? 

General Washington, doubtful, moved only a few troops. 
One day after the evacuation, he started his riflemen and 
five regiments of ordinary infantry for New York, the obvious 
point of the next attack. Three days later, General William 
Heath led out an infantry brigade. But was it safe to send 
more? General Washington wondered if the redcoats might 
try to "give us a Stroke, at a moment when they conceive us 
to be off guard." The lingering of the fleet seemed suspicious: 
"The enemy have the best knack at puzzling people I ever 
met with in my life," wrote General Washington. There was, 
besides, a further danger: "There is one evil that I dread, 



and that is, their spies." To deal with them, he ordered "a 
dozen or more of honest, sensible, and diligent men to haunt 
the communication between Roxbury and the different land- 
ing-places nearest the shipping, in order to question, cross- 
question, &c,, all such persons as are unknown/' 

At last a signal fluttered from the flagship. The white sails 
spread. The fleet moved out to sea ... turned . . . turned north. 
They were going to Halifax! At leisure now, the Continental 
Army proceeded to New York and began to strengthen its 

Not least of these defenses, though a quite unconscious one, 
was Henry Dawkins, a far from edifying character. Henry Daw- 
kins got out of jail in New York City, sometime in January 
or February, 1776, before the siege of Boston ended. Nobody 
now can tell why Henry Dawkins had been sent to jail, to 
begin with. Neither does anybody know how long Henry 
Dawkins had been there. But the events that immediately 
followed Henry Dawkins's jail deliverance convinced every- 
bodyexcept, perhaps, Henry that jail was the best possible 
place for that expert, but too enterprising, artist and engraver. 
Sound reasons for putting Henry Dawkins back in jail de- 
veloped almost as soon as Henry got out. Indeed, there seems 
never, at any time, to have been any lack of good, sound 
reasons for putting Henry Dawkins in jail. Such, at any rate, 
was the very general impression in New York City in the 
memorable year 1776. The Provincial Congress of New York 
felt this so strongly that, not content with incarcerating Henry 
again, they took the added precaution of putting him in irons. 

There was no real reason why Henry Dawkins should take 
to crime, for during the twenty years since he had come to 
America he had become a fairly prosperous engraver, making 
bookplates, caricatures, maps, coats of arms, seals and rings 
for the gentry of Philadelphia, and an elaborate astronomical 
plate to illustrate an article on the 1769 transit of Venus. There 
might, however, be more money in counterfeiting than in 
other forms of engraving; and there is no way of telling how 
long he may have been engraving counterfeit currency in 

Kidnaping George Washington 95 

Pennsylvania before the New York patriots laid him. low at 

Stirring matters were afoot, as Henry Dawkins made his 
way from jail in New York City to Long Island, in the early 
weeks of 1776. Already hard-pressed in Boston, the British 
were about to withdraw to Halifax, before beginning their at- 
tack on New York. Overseas, a mighty fleet of men-o'-war 
was preparing to sail with transports bearing a new army- 
British and German to strengthen at New York the army 
that had failed at Boston. Just off the New York coast, aboard 
H.M.S. Duchess of Gordon, William Tryon, royal governor of 
New York, feverishly plotted with Tories in the city, on Long 
Island, and far up the Hudson Valley, while his spies and 
secret messengers went back and forth on sinister errands. 
H.M.S. Asia and Savage also lay off the coast, ready to assist. 

Untroubled by such thoughts, unaware that the destiny of 
a continent rode with him, Henry Dawkins, enjoying his new- 
found freedom, proceeded at leisure through Long Island lanes 
to Huntington. The thoughts of Henry Dawkins were not upon 
the fate of nations, the movement of armies or the progress 
of history. Henry was cheerfully thinking out a scheme whereby 
he could easily turn a dishonest shilling and a dishonest dollar 
at the same time. He had no conception of the inconceivable 
rumpus his little get-rich-quick scheme was about to unloose. 
Henry Dawkins was merely contemplating a little profitable 
crime; but he was, in fact though he never knew it about 
to save the United States of America. 

With the peaceful calm of a man who feels reasonably sure 
he is on to a good thing, Henry Dawkins arrived at the home 
of the brothers Israel and Isaac Youngs in Huntington, Long 
Island, quite ordinary provincial subjects of the king, except 
that they were men of most remarkable and upright virtue- 
according to the enthusiastic description of their own blame- 
less lives that the brothers Youngs gave when arrested. 

Comfortably ensconced in the Youngs home, Dawkins pres- 
ently made a perfectly honest proposal. He suggested that 
Israel Youngs should help him buy a printing press. He was 
very insistent that it should be what was then called a "rolling 


press," for he felt sure he could work up a profitable little 
printing business. Something was said about producing labels 
for the local hat industry to paste inside its products. 

Israel Youngs was a singularly unsuspicious individual. It 
didn't occur to himor so he later averred with much em- 
phasisthat a rolling press was used to print engravings; or 
that currency issued by Congress and the new State govern- 
ments was so printed. To a suspicious man, this might have 
seemed a remarkable coincidence. No such thought of evil 
occurred to Israel Youngs. He said so! Youngs did admit, 
later, under considerable pressure, that at one time the thought 
just crossed his mind that something might be wrong with 
Dawkins. He thought it a little bit odd when he learned that 
his friend had signed his order for the new press with an 
assumed name. But Israel Youngs was like all three Japanese 
monkeys at once. He neither saw, heard nor spoke evil 
not when there was a prospect of easy money in being blind, 
deaf and dumb. 

Skilled in the fine art of asking no questions, Youngs did 
not ask any when, a little later, Dawkins installed his press 
In an attic, where, since it had no floor, boards had to be 
laid on the beams. Though it all seemed strange, the guileless 
Youngs brothers were still unsuspicious when the door leading 
to the attic was carefully concealed. 

After the press arrived, the engraver remarked to Israel 
Youngs that "he could make as good money as ever was, un- 
discovered"; but when Israel repeated this remark to his 
brother, the virtuous Isaac replied primly that "if he could 
it would be a sin." Or so he later told the irate American 
officials who interrogated him. Dawkins himself blamed the 
whole thing on "the Instigation of Israel Youngs"; but, by 
this time, all the conspirators were in a great deal of trouble 
and lying hard. 

Counterfeiting in those days was not really very difficult. 
Lacking the innumerable protective devices of modern bank 
notes, the crude currency of the new American states was easily 
imitated. State and Continental "shinplasters" were produced 
from ordinary engraved copper plates perhaps at times from 

Kidnaping George Washington 97 

ordinary type; and counterfeiters' only trouble was getting the 
right paper. Even the unsuspicious provincial treasuries of 
those days knew enough about currency to use a special kind 
but, alas for them any printer could buy the same paper 
on the open market. To get some, the Dawkins counterfeiting 
ring turned to one Isaac Ketcham. 

Bills of that period were printed from several plates at a 
time, in large sheets, several notes to a sheet, after which the 
individual notes were cut apart. It was always possible to 
get a sample of the paper by taking it from the space between 
the notes. Carrying such a specimen, Ketcham visited Philadel- 
phia, an early center of the American paper industry, examined 
paper, and asked for prices. No harm in that. It was ostensibly 
an innocent inquiry in the usual course of business. In ordinary 
times, Ketcham's effort to buy a little papelr would have in- 
terested no one save some willing salesman. The times, how- 
ever, were far from ordinary. Someone suspected a plot to 
counterfeit; and, about May of 1776, Ketcham was arrested. 
To make matters worse, Dawkins got drunk about this time, 
made several rash remarks, and was likewise arrested. 

Dawkins, Ketcham and the brothers Youngs, who presently 
joined them in jail, were themselves guilty of nothing worse 
than attempted counterfeiting, a crime long common in the 
American colonies, scarcely more than a profitable pastime. 
So far as they were concerned, the American Revolution meant 
only that new governments were issuing new currency, of 
which to make new counterfeits. But in the jail were others, 
still less innocent than the counterfeiting ring, engaged in dark 
affairs of state. They talked incautiously of other plots. Isaac 
Ketcham, hearing of graver matters, saw a chance to save him- 
self. He did save himself and without in the least intending 
it his country. 

This fantastic sequel to their counterfeiting scheme is one 
of the ironies of American history: Dawkins involved the 
Youngs brothers and Ketcham in counterfeiting. Their scheme 
sent all four to jail. There, among other unholy things, they 
learned of Tory plots which, if successful, would have destroyed 
the Continental Army. With no motive higher than the pres- 


ervation of his own skin, Ketcham betrayed them and then 
began service as a stool pigeon in the jail, so that the Tory 
plots were quashed in time. Without these sorry rogues, George 
Washington would never have been the father of anybody's 
country. A new world power would never have arisen. No 
starry flag would fly from coast to coast. No one is likely to 
build a monument to Henry Dawkins or the brothers Youngs 
or Isaac Ketcham. Still, unintentionally and from the worst 
possible motives, they saved America. 

Ketcham had, so far, been engaged in nothing worse than 
crime; but all this time, unknown to the counterfeiters, a 
powerful Tory group had been plotting, too. Not all that they 
plotted can ever be discovered now; but enough of their secrets 
leaked out to show that there were at least two sinister schemes. 
Was there still a third? The answer depends on how far one 
is now prepared to believe what everybody in New York be- 
lieved, by June of 1776. 

The Tories meant, in the first place, to kidnap General 
Washington from his New York headquarters, together with 
as many men of his guard as they could capture. Though the 
Americans hushed this up, the existence of such a conspiracy 
is made perfectly clear by what the ringleader, David Matthews, 
Tory mayor of New York, told a royal commission in London, 
when the Revolution was over. He had, said Mayor Matthews, 
being upon his oath, "formed a Plan for the taking M r Wash- 
ington & his Guard Prisoners but which was not effected." 

It is equally clear that there was another plot for a sudden 
rising of secret Tory armed forces, in rear of the American 
Army, in New York City, on Long Island, and along the 
Hudson as far north as the Highlands, while General Howe 
and the British Army, supported by Admiral Lord Howe and 
the Royal Navy, were attacking the American front. The 
Tory partisans meant, at the same time, to blow up American 
magazines, seize all American artillery, and shell the Con- 
tinental Army from behind, with their own guns. King's Bridge 
was to be cut, so that the rebels would have no chance of 
escaping into Westchester County. 

Whether there was still a third plot, to stab or poison Gen- 

Kidnaping George Washington 99 

eral Washingtonas was firmly believed in New York at the 
time is less certain. What is certain is that any attempt to 
capture the commander-in-chief, together with his guard, in 
his own headquarters, would have led to some very lively scenes, 
in which someone would have been killed, perhaps the general 
himself. There was no reason to stab or poison him if he 
could be kidnaped, for the British government very much 
wanted the archrebel alive, for trial and execution. But the 
vengeful Tories, once they had reached his headquarters se- 
cretly, would never have let George Washington live if they 
saw the plan to capture him alive had failed, though they 
would hardly have used poison. 

Fantastic though these schemes may sound today, they had 
a fair chance of success, for strong Tory forces were already 
secretly organized and prepared to go into action. One band 
of seven hundred king's men was ready to rise on Long Island. 
There was another, almost as large, at Goshen, New York. 
Tories at Cornwall were ready to seize the new American 
fortifications in the Highlands long enough to spike their can- 
non. The number of such guerrilla bands was steadily increas- 
ing, for recruiting agents were by this time moving through the 
American lines into New York City, upstate New York, New 
Jersey and Connecticut, very much as they pleased, organizing 
more and more secret companies of king's militia. They con- 
tinued to do so for the next two or three years. When the 
agents were caught, American courts-martial enthusiastically 
hanged them; but they were hard to catch. 

The king's men had the further advantage of a wide-ranging 
system of spies and secret couriers, which had been established 
in and around New York almost as soon as hostilities began. 
The Tory governor of New York, William Tryon, aboard 
H.M.S. Duchess of Gordon; Captain Vandeput, aboard Asia; 
and Captain Wallace, aboard Rose, could move about the coast 
as they pleased. There was no American Navy to chase them 
off. Boats could put off from the shore at any time, bringing 
aboard recruits, spies, news, arms or supplies. The governor 
could land couriers or secret agents anywhere along Long 
Island or the Jersey coast. Thence they could make their way 


Into New York with practically no trouble at all. Indeed, a 
shoemaker in New York City had been repairing shoes for 
British sailors aboard H.M.S. Asia, quite undetected. 

Secret communication was so perfect that not only could 
the enemy deliver and call for shoes; they could also deliver 
secret mail from H.M.S. Duchess of Gordon, directly to a 
British prisoner in New York City. On one occasion the British 
Captain Savage, one of the prisoners, had the audacity to keep 
the Royal Navy's secret courier hanging around the jail till 
he could get all his answers composed in satisfactory prose. 
Placidly, the enemy's agent waited in the American prison. 
Nobody disturbed him. 

When not engaged with his private British mail service in 
and out of his American confinement, Captain Savage spent 
his time persuading his American guards and even members 
of General Washington's own bodyguard to sign up for service 
with the British Army. 

Under such conditions the plots to kidnap Washington and 
to attack the American rear with secret forces, seemed almost 
certain of success. British agents had corrupted several soldiers 
of Washington's guard. The Tory bands were armed, organized 
and ready. The arrival of the British forces was timed for 
late June and early July. The plotters were installed in two 
New York taverns-the Sergeant's Arms, kept by Alexander 
Sinclair; and Corbie's Tavern, near Spring and Wooster streets, 
not very far southeast of General Washington's headquarters. 
"A Mullotto Coloured Negro dressed in blue Cloaths" went 
back and forth with messages to Governor Tryon, hovering 

Then suddenly three things went wrong. According to 
Mayor David Matthews, the plot to kidnap Washington failed 
because of "an unfortunate Discovery that was made of a Let- 
ter." Since he himself was at once arrested, Matthew never 
learned or never admitted that some of his conspirators, chat- 
ting about their plans indiscreetly, were overheard by a 
patriotic waiter, William Corbie, who informed Joseph Smith, 
a prominent citizen of the day. 

While there is no reason to doubt that a plotter's letter may 

Kidnaping George Washington 101 

have gone astray or that William Corbie eavesdropped, official 
records clearly show that it was the Dawkins counterfeiting 
scheme that really wrecked the plot against General Washing- 
ton. In the court-martial that followed, the incriminating letter 
if it ever existed was not put in evidence at all; the eaves- 
dropping waiter did not appear as a witness; nor was there 
any mention of plans to poison or stab the general. 

Dawkins and the Youngs brothers may never have learned 
anything about the Tory plots; but Ketcham, soon after he 
had been confined, got wind of the conspiracies, probably from 
gossip among the prisoners, perhaps from eavesdropping, per- 
haps in some other way. The Dawkins counterfeiting plot had 
gotten him into jail. But his imprisonment for counterfeiting 
had enabled him to stumble on something far more dangerous. 
Could he escape punishment for one plot by revealing the 
other, atone for crime by revealing treason? 

Pondering his problems in the illimitable leisure of confine- 
ment, Ketcham thought he saw a way out and, in early June 
of 1776, sent a petition to the Provincial Congress. It was suit- 
ably humble. Ketcham was now "deeply imprest with shame 
and Confuseon for his past Misconduct/' He told a sad tale 
of "six poor Children." He wanted to be let out on bail to 
take care of them. 

The plight of Ketcham's children did not interest the rebel 
government very much. What did interest New York officials 
was a note to the speaker of the Provincial Congress, which 
Ketcham had slyly appended, as if a mere afterthought: "Sir 
I the subscriber hath something to obsearve to the honourable 
house if I cold be admited Its nothing concearning my one 
afair But intirely on another subgyt." 

The speaker was quick to take the hint. His reason is made 
clear in a further note somebody added later, at the bottom 
of Ketcham's petition: "The application of Isaac Ketcham 
And the memorandum which finally ended in the execution of 
Tho s Hickey for High Treason." It is infuriating that the 
memorandum itself, which told the whole story, has vanished; 
but this annotation is enough to show that it was Ketcham who 
first revealed the plots. 


This penitent prisoner emerged from confinement long 
enough for an interview with the speaker, who made him a 
"purposual" Upon his acceptance, Ketcham was told, "Liberty 
was depending." The speaker meant the liberty of America; 
but what mainly worried Isaac Ketcham was the liberty of 
Isaac Ketcham. Accepting the offer made him, he returned 
to prison and went to work as an American spy. 

He soon had definite information, for two new prisoners 
arrived, charged, at the moment, only with passing counterfeit 
money, but also (though Ketcham and his patriot employers 
did not know it yet) deeply involved in both the Tory con- 
spiracies. These new arrivals in the jail were Sergeant Thomas 
Hickey and Private Michael Lynch, of General Washington's 
guard, both of whom had been arrested on June fifteenth. 
There would never have been any more serious charge against 
either of them had not Hickey foolishly boasted of being in 
the Tory plots. Two days later, after he had had a chance to 
pump both Hickey and Lynch for information, Ketcham sent 
word to the Provincial Congress he believed both men were 
involved in the treason he had already discovered. 

At this moment, the New York authorities received further 
alarming news, which confirmed what Ketcham had learned. 
A patriotic businessman, William Leary, of Orange County, 
New York, had met a former employee, James Mason, who 
confided that he and some others were already in British pay. 
Leary informed the authorities, who arrested Mason. Mason, 
under pressure, implicated Thomas Hickey and othersGilbert 
Forbes, a Broadway gunsmith; William Green, a drummer in 
the guard; James Johnson, a fifer; a soldier in the guard named 
Barnes; and one William Forbes. Both Leary and Mason im- 
plicated the Tory mayor, David Matthews, who had long been 
under suspicion and who, Mason testified, had contributed 100 
for the expenses of the plot. 

Arrests were swift and sudden. Hickey was already in jail 
when Ketcham and Mason implicated him in treason, in addi- 
tion to the counterfeiting, for which he had originally been 
arrested. General Greene's troops seized Mayor David Mat- 
thews at his Flatbush home, at one o'clock in the morning 

Kidnaping George Washington 103 

of June 22, but could find no papers. Gilbert Forbes was ar- 
rested at nearly the same hour and immediately interrogated. 
Green, Johnson and Barnes, of the bodyguard, were arrested 
on the twenty-second or twenty-third. Some Tories took to 
the woods, but twenty or more were seized before they could 

As usual in wartime, the wildest rumors spread. It was re- 
ported that Hickey had instructions to stab General Washing- 
ton. The story went around that he had poisoned a dish of 
green peas (of which Washington was specially fond); but that 
the general's housekeeper warned him in time to send the 
peas away untasted. Someone, so the story ran, threw the peas 
into a chicken pen and all the chickens died. 

Sergeant Hickey went before a general court-martial, con- 
vened by warrant from General Washington himself. The 
official record describes it as the court-martial of Thomas 
Hickey "and others"; but there is no indication that any of 
the prisoner's equally guilty accomplices ever stood trial. 
Neither is there any hint why Hickey alone was singled out 
for the hangman. Washington says merely, "the others are 
not tried." The three conspirators who testified against the 
sergeant were probably granted their lives as a reward. 

Presiding over Hickey's court-martial was Colonel Samuel 
H. Parsonswhom, in a few years, the British would be trying 
to persuade to change sides, too. Hickey was formally charged 
with "exciting and joining in a mutiny and sedition, and of 
treacherously corresponding with, inlisting among, and receiv- 
ing pay from the enemies of the United American Colonies." 
Since such charges, which the judge advocate could easily prove, 
were enough to hang any soldier, nothing was said about 
kidnaping or assassinating the commander-in-chief, capturing 
American artillery or attacking the Continental Army from 
the rear. There was no use putting bad ideas into people's 
heads or causing uneasiness in the ranks. The British would 
be disembarking at Staten Island in a day or two and would 
soon attack. The high command didn't want Continental sol- 
diers looking uneasily over their shoulders when that attack 


Though Hickey pleaded not guilty, there was never any 
hope for him. Appearing against him were four witnesses: 
William Green; Gilbert Forbes; Isaac Ketcham, who had tricked 
Hickey into his fatal confession; and William Welch, an Amer- 
ican soldier, not a conspirator, who had been court-martialed 
on different charges and acquitted, in May. The judge advocate 
was so sure of his case that he did not call Lynch, Barnes, 
Johnson and Mason as witnesses, though the authorities by 
this time knew all about them. Dawkins and the Youngs 
brothers were not involved at all in treason; but their counter- 
feiting scheme had brought together in jail Hickey, who was 
involved in both counterfeiting and treason, and Ketcham, 
who, though accused of counterfeiting only, first revealed the 
Tory plot. 

Green swore that, about three weeks earlier, he had sounded 
out Gilbert Forbes. He found that "Forbes's pulse beat high 
in the Tory scheme." Eventually, when Forbes tried to get 
Green to enlist in the British service, while still in General 
Washington's guard, Green agreed. But-or so he tried to per- 
suade a rather unsympathetic court-martialhe did this with 
the best and most completely patriotic intentions. He did it 
only "with a view to cheat the Tories, and detect their scheme." 
Green said he had broached the plan to Hickey and "told him 
the principle I went upon, and that we had a good opportunity 
of duping the Tories." 

How much of this Green thought anyone would believe there 
is no way of telling. He was trying to clear himself and, at 
the same time, do the best he could for his friend Hickey. 
The silence in which the court-martial officers listened must 
have been rather stony. 

What had happened then? 

"I proposed to him to reveal the plot to the General, but 
Hickey said we had better let it alone till we had made further 

This was fairly obvious nonsense. An enlisted man, if he is 
approached by the enemy's agents, should lay the matter before 
his officers. Secret negotiations with the enemy, no matter what 
their purpose, are not matters for the rank and file. 

Kidnaping George Washington 105 

The court-martial, which must have listened with growing 
skepticism from the beginning, soon heard evidence that con- 
firmed its worst suspicions. Though Gilbert Forbes had at 
first refused to talk, a visit from a very gloomy clergyman, 
within an hour or two of his arrest, quickly changed his mind. 
When the parson, perhaps sincerely, told the prisoner "that his 
time was very short, not having above three days to live, and 
advised him to prepare himself," Forbes's resistance broke 
down, and he revealed a good deal. Green had sworn it was 
Forbes who led him into the plot. Not at all, said Forbes, on 
his oath. Quite the contrary: it was Green who had tempted 

A night or two after General Washington arrived in New- 
York from Boston, Green fell into company where I was. 
We were drinking, and Green toasted the King's health, and 
I did so too. A day or two afterwards Green called upon 
me, and said, that as I had drank his Majesty's health, he 
supposed I was his friend, and immediately proposed to in- 
list some men into the King's service, and told me he could 
procure considerable numbers to join him. I put him off, 
and declined having any hand in the business. But in re- 
peated applications from him, I at last fell into the scheme. 
Green was to inlist the men, in which I was not to be con- 
cerned, nor have my name mentioned. In a day or two 
Green gave me a list of men who had engaged, among whom 
was the prisoner, Hickey. Soon after which, Hickey asked 
me to give him half a dollar, which I did, and this was all 
the money Hickey ever received from me. Green received 
eighteen dollars, and was to pay the men who inlisted one 
dollar apiece, and we were to allow them ten shillings per 
week subsistence money. I received upwards of a hundred 
pounds from Mr. Matthews, the [Tory] Mayor, to pay those 
who should inlist into the King's service, who, after inlist- 
ing, were to go on board the King's ships, but if they could 
not get there, were to play their proper parts when the 
King's forces arrived." 

Welch testified that he had let Hickey swear him to secrecy 
in a grogshop, but insisted secrecy was all he swore. Hickey 
"then said that this country was sold, that the enemy would 


soon arrive, and that it was best for us Old Countrymen to 
make our peace before they came, or they would kill us all. 
That we Old Countrymen should join together, and we would 
be known by a particular mark, and if I would agree to be one 
among them, he would carry me to a man who would let me 
have a dollar by way of encouragement/' 

Welch did not like the sound of it or, as he put it: "I did 
not relish the project, and we parted/' 

Though Isaac Ketcham had been perfectly willing to escape 
counterfeiting charges by spying on his fellow prisoners, even 
if it got them hanged, he had no desire to stand up in open 
court and tell about it. As Ketcham himself put it: "With the 
help of Define Providence I suckseeded in the undertaking, 
thow not Expecting to B called as a Publick Evidence and 
theare to Declare what I gathered from one parson one month 
by Laying sceams and useing arguments to get it from him, 
which was a considerable shok of conscience." 

Testify, nevertheless, he did. Hickey had asked Ketcham why 
he was in jail. 

"I told him, because I was a Tory. On this a conversation 
ensued upon politicks. In different conversations he informed 
me that the Army was become damnably corrupted; that the 
[British] fleet was soon expected; and that he and a number of 
others were in a band to turn against the American Army when 
the King's troops should arrive, and asked me to be one of 
them. The plan, he told me, was, some were to be sick, and 
others were to hire men in their room. That eight of the Gen- 
eral's Guard were concerned." 

Hickey's efforts to conduct his own defense were pitiably 
weak: "He engaged in the scheme at first for the sake of cheating 
the Tories, and getting some money from them, and afterwards 
consented to have his name sent on board the man-of-war, in 
order that if the enemy should arrive and defeat the army here, 
and he should be taken prisoner, he might be safe/* 

A good many people in New York were wondering, just then, 
what would happen to them if they came again into the royal 
power. It was natural that a native-born Irishman, in arms 
against his king, should worry over that aspect of the matter. 

Kidnaping George Washington 107 

But the desire to save his own skin no matter how natural- 
is no defense for a soldier caught communicating illicitly with 
the enemy. 

That is what the court-martial thought. Its verdict was unan- 
imous: "That the prisoner Thomas Hickey, suffer death for 
said crimes by being hanged by the neck till he is dead." The 
court adjourned, and Hickey went back to his cell in a surly 
mood. Asked whether he wanted a chaplain, he snarled that 
"they wear all Cut throats." 

Somebody started to put up a gallows, near the Bowery. Next 
day a council of seven general officers, with the commander-in- 
chief presiding, confirmed the sentence and fixed the execution 
for eleven o'clock in the morning, the following day, June 28. 

The military justice of Revolutionary days moved swiftly. 
The man was guilty. Give him a day and a half for repentance* 
Then hang him. Four brigades were ordered to witness the 
execution and draw from the pinioned, dangling, twitching 
form of Sergeant Thomas Hickey such moral lessons as they 
might. Others, too, might profit. There were certainly more 
British agents in New York than anyone had yet discovered. 
Better give them something to worry about. 

Orders came out on the morning of June 28. The brigades 
of Generals Heath, Scott, Spencer and Lord Stirling were or- 
dered to parade at ten o'clock and march to the place of execu- 
tion. Eighty men twenty from each brigade "with good Arms 
and Bayonets' 7 were ordered out as a guard for the unfortunate 
Hickey on his last mile. There had been so much plotting 
already that there might be an attempt at rescue; but a guard 
of eighty men, with four brigades in reserve, could deal with 
anything the Tories or British might attempt. In all, about 
twenty thousand people are supposed to have watched Hickey 
die. Eighteenth-century Englishmen found executions rather 
interesting spectacles, and their American congeners had the 
same tastes. 

Hickey was sullen as he stood at the gallows. In spite of his 
low opinion of the clergy, a chaplain went with him to the end, 
Hickey "appeared unaffected and obstinate to the last, except 
that when the Chaplain took him by the hand under the Gal- 


lows and bad[e] him adieu, a torrent of tears flowed over his 
face." Hickey, however, quickly recovered from his outburst 
of tears, "With an indignant scornful air he wiped 'em with 
his hand from his face and assumed the confident look." 

In his last few moments of life, Hickey breathed threats 
against someone named Green. Unless Green "was very cautious, 
the Design would as yet be executed against him." One medical 
officer understood this to refer to General Nathanael Greene. 
It is true that General Greene had been active against Tories, 
and his troops had made some of the arrests. But Hickey's 
bitterest resentment would naturally have turned against Wil- 
liam Green, who had been a fellow conspirator, who had testi- 
fied against him and who was not going to be hanged in the 
next few minutes, who was not going to be hanged ever. 

On went the noose and blindfold. Hickey swung off into air, 
writhed for a few dreadful minutes, hung limp. The twenty 
thousand spectators gazed. "Kip, the moon-curser, suddenly 
sank down and expired instantly/' ("Moon-curser" was current 
slang for a smugglerwho preferred dark nights.) 

Remorselessly, General Washington drove home the moral 
of the ghastly spectacle his court-martial had provided. Orders 
for the day said: 

The unhappy fate of Thomas Hickey, executed this day 
for mutiny, sedition, and treachery, the General hopes will 
be a warning to every soldier in the Army to avoid those 
crimes, and all others, so disgraceful to the character of a 
soldier, and pernicious to his country, whose pay he receives 
and bread he eats. And in order to avoid those crimes, the 
most certain method is to keep out of the temptation of 
them, and particularly to avoid lewd women, who, by the 
dying confession of this poor criminal, first led him into 
practices which ended in an untimely and ignominious 

Just what "lewd women" may have had to do with it all is 
far from clear. There is no hint of a "sex angle" in any docu- 
ment save this one. Soldiers, however, are single men in bar- 
racks, who have never grown into plaster saints. Neither British 

Kidnaping George Washington 109 

nor Continental Army consisted entirely of Galahads. New 
York, during both American and British occupations, had a 
notorious vice district, ironically known as the * 4 Holy Ground/* 
But there Is nothing save this one allusion In orders to connect 
the frail ladies who piled their ancient trade in the "Holy 
Ground" with the great plot that failed. 

To Congress, General Washington reported: "I am hopeful 
this example will produce many salutary consequences and 
deter others from entering Into like traitorous practices." It 
did. True, Tory conspiracies continued. True, too, some of 
the sorely tried troops mutinied once or twice. But the enemy 
never again attempted anything like the Hlckey plot. 

The conspiracies had been detected just in time. General 
Howe's personal transport had been lying In New York harbor 
for three days when Sergeant Thomas Hickey swung from the 
gallow T s. American alarm flags were flying on Staten Island. A 
forest of British masts was now appearing In the bay. Howe's 
attack was coming; but the Americans need no longer fear a 
second attack from the rear. 

In a sense, Lieutenant General Washington and the Con- 
tinental Army owed all this to Henry Dawkins. But they were 
not very grateful. Ketcham, as a reward for his espionage, was 
released. But where was Henry Dawkins? It is very probable 
that he was sitting in the damp, dark mine which served for a 
prison at Simsbury, Connecticut. Henry Dawkins was back in 
jail again! 


* * * 

Nathan Hale A Wasted Hero 

Two DAYS after Hickey swung from his gallows, the enemy's 
forces began to arrive. On June 30, 1776, General William 
Howe landed his army on Staten Island. On July 12, Admiral 
Lord Howe, his brother, arrived with a powerful fleet and more 
troops. On August i, Sir Henry Clinton returned from Charles- 
ton. He had been defeated, but he brought back with him addi- 
tional redcoats for the attack on New York, which now could 
not be far off. 

Though it was clearly impossible to defend Manhattan and 
Long Island very long against a hostile army, supported by a 
hostile navy, Congress insisted the attempt be made; and Gen- 
eral Washington, ever the well-disciplined soldier, obediently 
undertook his hopeless task. Now was the time to set up an 
intelligence net like Revere's in Boston first on Staten Island, 
which could not possibly be held, for lack of troops; later on 
Long Island and Manhattan, ready to begin espionage when 
the Americans were forced to withdraw, as they assuredly would 
be. Such a network could have kept General Washington fully 
informed, as successful networks on those very islands did, later 
in the war; but no one thought of that in time. One or two 
patriot spies, probably volunteers, did remain on Staten Island, 


Nathan Hale A Wasted Hero in 

but they had no means of transmitting intelligence when they 
got it. 

After Howe's landing there, the need for intelligence became 
pressing. On July 14, 1776, General Hugh Mercer could find 
no one to enter the British camp, which was being observed by 
at least one resident agent, who still had no means of communi- 
cation. On August 20, however, Brigadier General William 
Livingston, later governor of New Jersey, sent out a courier, 
who reached his Staten Island colleague about midnight and 
was back next day with full details. The courier was probably 
Lawrence Mascoll, since Washington's warrant books show a 
payment to him on August 23, 1776, for going into the enemy's 
lines for information. 

The secret agent on Staten Island whom he met almost cer- 
tainly one of the devoted Mersereau family, who spied for 
Washington throughout the war had been keeping his ears 
open, had "heard the orders read, and heard the Generals talk- 
Ing." He reported enemy strength as thirty-five thousand and 
predicted that twenty thousand men would be landed on Long 
Island information that turned out to be surprisingly correct, 
for Howe had about thirty-four thousand men, of whom he 
landed some twenty thousand on Long Island. The resident 
agent was also sure that the British wagon train was prepared 
to move and that all but two of Howe's field guns were already 
aboard the transports. All this was confirmed within two days, 
when the British tents on Staten Island began to disappear and 
ships could be seen moving to the east end of Long Island. 

This information was out of date in a few days, however, for 
on August 27 the British won the Battle of Long Island and, 
two days later, General Washington withdrew his forces from 
Brooklyn to Manhattan. 

Again American headquarters found itself unable to find out 
what the enemy was doing. On September i, General Wash- 
ington was urging General Heath and General George Clinton 
to establish some "Channel of information," as it was by this 
time "of great consequence to gain intelligence of the enemy's 
designs, and of their intended operations/' The general hoped 
Clinton, as a New Yorker, might be able to find volunteer 


spies, "in whom a confidence may be reposed." If no patriots 
could be found, perhaps some Tory might be bribed to spy 
"for a reasonable reward." 

Within a few days, the worried commander needed informa- 
tion so badly he did not care whether the reward was "reason- 
able" or not. By September 5, 1776, he was writing: "Do not 
stick at expense to bring this to pass, as I was never more un- 
easy than on account of my want of knowledge." 

Just as getting military intelligence of any kind began to 
seem hopeless, on September 8, Colonel Isaac Nicoll, of the New 
York Militia, commanding at Fort Constitution, up the Hud- 
son, sent the first real information of the enemy since the 
loss of Long Island. This made General Washington hope for 
"regular Intelligence of the Enemy's Movement," but Nicoll 
could send no more. Governor George Clinton managed to get 
two agents, George Treadwell and Benjamin Ludlum, from 
New Rochelle to Long Island, where they remained until 
September 12, bringing back a grossly exaggerated estimate of 
British strength; but, though this was sent to General Washing- 
ton at once, intelligence remained inadequate. 

There was only one thing left for General Washington to do. 
He would have to send a spy into the British lines on Long 
Island. A more experienced intelligence service than the Amer- 
icans yet possessed would have sent in several agents, in case 
one was caught. Instead, General Washington ordered Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton to find a solitary volunteer. 
Knowlton asked Lieutenant James Sprague, veteran of the 
French and Indian War, to undertake the dangerous task. 
Since no soldier is ever ordered on such a mission, Sprague had 
a perfect right to refuse, and did so. "I am willing to go & fight 
them, but as far as going among them & being taken & hung 
up like a dog, I will not do it." 

Either before or after Sprague's refusal, the lieutenant colo- 
nel called a meeting of all the officers of Knowlton's Rangers, 
none of whom liked the idea, either. Just as it became apparent 
that no one would volunteer, there was a sudden stir at the 
door, Nathan Hale, still pallid from a recent illness, joined the 

Nathan HaleA Wasted Hero 113 

"I will undertake it," he said. 

The volunteer was a young Yale athlete of the Class o 1773, 
a schoolmaster at Haddam, Connecticut, tall, sturdy, handsome, 
an ardent patriot, impelled solely by a sense of duty to under- 
take a mission in which there was a prospect of disgrace, no 
chance of glory, and imminent risk of ignominious death. 

Though the story that the commander-in-chief personally 
gave Hale his orders is not improbable, there is no clear evi- 
dence, since exact instructions were too secret to be written 
down. Whoever may have been responsible, American intelli- 
gence planned this dangerous mission as badly as it could be 
planned. Anyone who had ever seen Nathan Hale was sure to 
recognize him, for the spy was literally a marked man; explod- 
ing powder had scarred his face. Worse still, his cousin Samuel 
Hale was the British Army's deputy commissary of prisoners. 
Though wholly inexperienced in intelligence, Hale was given 
no training, no planned cover, no contact with patriotic Ameri- 
can civilians within the British lines. There is no record that 
he was given the money he was certain to need. No line of 
communication was arranged. He was given no "sympathetic" 
ink, though the British had been using it for a year or more, 
and Sir James Jay, brother of John Jay, had invented a formula 
of his own three years earlier. The kind of memorized code a 
man can carry in his head was not even thought of. Having 
run the hideous risk of collecting intelligence, Hale would have 
to carry about with him the written notes that would, if he 
were caught, instantly prove him a spy. 

Efforts to maintain secrecy were very clumsy. No false orders 
were issued to explain the captain's disappearance. Asher 
Wright, the captain's "waiter," was sure to wonder what had 
become of him. So were the men in his company. Every officer 
in the Rangers knew Captain Hale was going out as a spy. 
No breath of suspicion has ever touched the loyalty of these 
officers or men; but loyalty is not the same as silence. Any 
chance British spy might hear the gossip by the campfires. 

Worst of all, Hale was not cautioned to maintain silence 
himself. Before starting, the daring young captain talked over 
the whole plan with Captain William Hull, a Yale classmate, 


who had been a brother officer in Webb's Regiment, before 
Hale transferred to the Rangers. Hull was perfectly loyal, 
too; but a spy has no business discussing his mission with any- 

Hull, being still assigned to Webb's Regiment, knew nothing 
about the meeting of Ranger officers. Horrified to learn what 
his friend meant to do, he tried hard to dissuade him; but Hale 
was determined: "He owed to his country the accomplishment 
of an object so important, and so much desired by the Com- 
mander of her armies, and he knew of no other mode of obtain- 
ing the information, than by assuming a disguise and passing 
into the enemy's camp." 

Hull continued to expostulate. He told Hale that, "though 
he viewed the business of a spy as a duty, yet, he could not 
officially be required to perform it. That such a service was 
not claimed of the meanest soldier." Besides, "his nature was 
too frank and open for deceit and disguise." There was also the 
disgraceful nature of espionage: "Who respects the character of 
a spy?" 

"For a year I have been attached to the army," replied Hale, 
as Hull reports him, "and have not rendered any material serv- 
ice." As for the supposed disgrace of espionage, "every kind 
of service, necessary to the public good, becomes honorable by 
being necessary." 

When Hull again begged him to give up the scheme, his 
friend said only: "1 will reflect, and do nothing but what duty 

After that, Hale simply disappeared, and Hull knew nothing 
more, though he "feared he had gone to the British lines, to 
execute his fatal purpose." 

The gallant spy's next movements can be accurately traced 
because he took with him Sergeant Stephen Hempstead, who, 
long after the war, published the story in Missouri. Hale had 
been provided with "a general order to all armed vessels, to 
take him to any place he should designate." He called in 
Sergeant Hempstead, who records that the captain "said I must 
go with him as far as I could, with safety, and wait for his re- 

Nathan Hale A Wasted Hero 115 

They left Harlem Heights about September 12, 1776, look- 
ing for a safe place to cross Long Island Sound "the first oppor- 
tunity." This proved impossible near New York City, because 
the coast was guarded by British naval vessels, whose tenders 
could row close inshore to reconnoiter and block any passage. 
The captain and the sergeant could find no way to reach Long 
Island until, at Norwalk, they came upon the armed American 
sloop Schuyler, commanded by Captain Charles Pond. This 
vessel took Hale across and dropped him at Huntlngton, Long 
Island, where American secret missions continued to slip in 
during the rest of the war. 

Thus far, Hale had remained in uniform though not the 
colonial buff and blue with epaulets, which only a few senior 
officers owned. Asher Wright remembered in old age that the 
captain's uniform was a "frock" and that it was "made of white 
linen, & fringed, such as officers used to wear," the kind of 
thing "frock and kerchief" much worn by American officers 
for field service. It was something like a frontier hunting shirt, 
which Washington once proposed as a uniform for the entire 

Hale had with him, however, "a plain suit of citizen's brown 
clothes," very likely the "Linen Cloth Similar to brown Hol- 
land for Summer ware," which his sister Rose had planned to 
make into clothing for him in June of 1776. 

Since he had had two years' experience in teaching, he natu- 
rally assumed "the character of a Dutch schoolmaster." Besides, 
it was September, when any unemployed pedagogue would 
naturally be looking for a school. He had his Yale diploma 
with him. Why he had taken this with him on active duty is 
hard to understand; but Yale diplomas of that period were 
small enough to carry about, and he had good reason to take it 
with him, behind the enemy's lines, as "an introduction to his 
assumed calling." He was shrewd enough to leave his silver 
shoebuckles with Sergeant Hempstead, "saying they would not 
comport with his character of schoolmaster." 

From the moment Captain Pond put him ashore at Hunting- 
ton until his capture, Hale's movements are veiled in mystery; 
which is not remarkable, since he was on a secret mission, his 


papers disappeared, and his captors hanged him without trial. 
In the absence of a court-martial record, all that is really known 
is what Captain John Montresor, chief engineer of the British 
Army, told the American officers who received him under a flag 
of truce the evening after Hale had been hanged. Montresor, 
who had seen Hale just before the execution, said "that Cap- 
tain Hale had passed through their army, both on Long Island 
and New York [i.e., Manhattan]. That he had procured 
sketches of the fortifications, and made memoranda of their 
number and different positions." 

Hale was on familiar ground when he reached Long Island, 
where his regiment had been stationed in the early part of 
1776, before moving to Manhattan. Benson J. Lossing perhaps 
quoting a local legendsays that he went on after landing and, 
"at a farm-house a mile distant he was kindly furnished with 
breakfast and a bed for repose after his night's toil." This may 
be true, especially if Washington's headquarters were well 
enough informed to know in advance where their agent would 
be safe. The farmhouse may be identical with the tavern of 
the Widow Chichester, better known as "Mother Chich," where 
some accounts say he paused. 

The spy had hardly reached Long Island when the military 
situation changed entirely, for on September 15 the British 
seized Manhattan. Since British positions on Long Island were 
no longer of any interest to Washington, a less devoted secret 
agent might simply have returned; but the conscientious Hale 
went boldly on to Manhattan, to observe the new positions. 
There is no way of knowing how he managed to cross the East 
River; but it has been conjectured that he found work on one 
of the market boats, carrying produce into the city from Long 
Island. This would take him to Whitestone Landing, Flush- 
ing and Hellgate, with a chance to see what the enemy were 
doing at each stop. Plausible though the idea is, it remains 
unconfirmed. If Hale did try such a scheme, the boat would 
eventually take him into New York, along with its load of 
vegetables, inconspicuously. 

By the time he reached New York City, the Americans had 
been pushed back to where 12 7th Street now runs. The British 

Nathan Hale A Wasted Hero 117 

held the io6th Street line, with advanced posts as far north 
as iioth Street or beyond; and there was some vigorous bicker- 
ing between the lines, in which for the first time American 
troops, in the open field and without entrenchments, put the 
regulars to flight. 

By September twenty-first, probably several days earlier, the 
disguised captain found himself back on Manhattan, from 
which he had started. He had by this time been in enemy- 
held territory more than a week, in danger of being recognized 
at every instant. It has been said probably correctly, though 
without adequate evidence that he pushed resolutely north- 
ward till he reached the British front, where the most valuable 
information was to be had. If so,, he passed through (and 
observed) Lord Percy's troops (in reserve somewhere near the 
eastern part of Eightieth Street); Sir Henry Clinton's troops (in 
support, along a line not far from Ninety- third Street); and 
Lord Cornwallis's troops (disposed in depth with a main line 
of resistance near io6th Street). This gave him the exact mili- 
tary intelligence General Washington wanted. 

From the British front, the secret agent could look across to 
American outposts and safety on the high ground not far 
north of is^th Street. Though the prospect of crossing the 
front was remote, Hale may have hoped to row a boat around 
the flanks of both armies and safely into the American rear. 
Or he may, as has been reported, have hoped to slip through 
the no man's land around what is now Columbia University 
and back to the Continental Army. 

Since Sergeant Hempstead had been ordered to wait at Nor- 
walk, the original plan had evidently been to send a small craft 
of some kind to pick his captain up on the north shore of Long 
Island. However, the military situation having completely 
changed, to return to Long Island and use the escape route 
there was now extremely dangerous. 

Hale, having secured detailed intelligence of British troop 
dispositions and field fortifications, was mainly concerned to 
get back to his own lines when, sometime during the night of 
September 21, he was arrested. There are three discrepant ac- 
counts of this episode. According to one version, probably the 


true one, Hale was captured because he mistook a boat from 
a British man-of-war for an American craft sent to take him 
off. It is incredible that this could happen by daylight, since 
the oarsmen would be in uniform, but it could easily happen in 
darkness. The incident is sometimes placed in Manhattan, 
along the East River; sometimes on the north shore of Long Is- 

Hale is also said to have been betrayed by a Tory who recog- 
nized him at "Mother Chich's" tavern. A third version makes 
the Tory betrayer his cousin, Samuel Hale, though there is no 
reason whatever to suppose that this is true. 

According to the first and most probable version, Washing- 
ton's spy was captured by sailors from H.M.S. Halifax^ lying off 
Whitestone Point. Lieutenant William Quarme captain by 
courtesy, since he commanded the ship went ashore in a small 
boat, near the foot of mth Street, either between the lines or 
at a point where the British lines had been pushed forward to- 
ward noth Street or a little farther. 

Hale certainly had no reason to suppose that a boat from the 
American forces would put in here to take him off, but he may 
have supposed that the little craft contained Americans from 
Long Island, who would take him across the East River. When 
he saw his mistake, he is said to have betrayed agitation. Even 
without this, Captain Quarme would naturally have been sus- 
picious. There was something very queer about a civilian 
schoolmaster at the front. If Hale was beyond the British front 
between the two armies, suspicion was inevitable. 

He was immediately seized and turned over to the army. 
The time of the capture is clearly fixed by British Army orders: 

Head Q rs New york Island, Sep* 1776 ... A Spy f m the 
Enemy (by his own full Confession) Apprehended Last 
night, was this day Executed at 1 1 oClock in front of the 
Atilery Park- 
The main outline of the final tragedy is clear. In addition 
to Montresor's account and the official note on the execution, 
several British officers' diaries mention the incident. Howe had 
set up his headquarters in the house of James Beekman, near 

Nathan Hale A Wasted Hero 119 

the East River, now the corner of First Avenue and Fifty-first 
Street. Since Hale was under serious suspicion, he must have 
been searched before being taken to the commanding general, 
and the incriminating papers he carried must have been found 
at once. 

Satisfied that the prisoner was an American officer In disguise 
as Hale himself admitted Howe simply ordered him hanged, 
without trial. It Is extraordinary that, in all the subsequent 
outcry over Hale's fate and the harshness with which he was 
treated, this hasty condemnation has been passed over. Andre, 
who also admitted his identity, was nevertheless tried by a 
board of generals. Even the ruthless Germans gave individuals 
accused of espionage a court-martial; and the German spies who 
landed on Long Island in World War II were allowed to carry 
their appeal to the Supreme Court. 

A British officer who was present when the prisoner was con- 
demned says the good-natured Howe was regretful. Hale's 
"manly bearing and the evident disinterested patriotism of the 
handsome young prisoner, sensibly touched a chord of General 
Howe's nature; but the stern rules of war concerning such of- 
fenses would not allow him to exercise even pity." 

Once Howe had ordered the execution, his prisoner passed 
into the custody of William Cunningham, provost marshal of 
the British forces. According to tradition Hale was confined for 
the night in the Beekinan greenhouse, adjoining the mansion. 
As he was to be hanged next morning, it was hardly worth 
while taking the prisoner four miles down Manhattan Island 
to the city jail, which stood near the present Hall of Records. 

Reports of British cruelty at Nathan Hale's execution have 
been much exaggerated. Cunningham was undoubtedly a 
brute; but the story that he tore Hale's letter to his mother to 
pieces before his eyes is plainly false, since she had been dead 
for some years. Hale wrote only two letters, which remained in 
the provost marshal's hands for some time after his victim's 

Montresor told the story of the hanging to Captain Alexan- 
der Hamilton, of the artillery, and Captain William Hull, of 


Webb's Regiment, in which Hale had begun his army career. 
Hull says specifically: "I learned the melancholy particulars 
from this officer, who was present at his execution, and seemed 
touched by the circumstances attending it." Hamilton must 
have recorded the incident at some time or other; but there is 
now no trace of what he wrote. 

Even Montresor, Howe's chief engineer, described Cunning- 
ham as "hardened to human suffering and every softening sen- 
timent of the heart," and there is irony in the fact that 
Cunningham himself was hanged for forgery in London in 
1791. Montresor also admitted that Hale "asked for a clergy- 
man to attend him. It was refused. He then requested a Bible; 
that too was refused by his inhuman jailer." Montresor was fully 
acquainted with the facts. He had been alone with Hale just 
before the hanging. He had no reason to blacken the character 
of his own army's provost, in talking with enemy officers; and 
he seems to have reached the American camp in a state of shock 
and indignation at what he had witnessed that morning. 

For some reason, there was a delay after Hale reached the 
gallows at the artillery park, where Captain Montresor had 
his tent. The humane Montresor, pitying the condemned man, 
"requested the Provost Marshal to permit the prisoner to sit in 
my marquee, while he was making the necessary preparations. 
Captain Hale entered; he was calm, and bore himself with gen- 
tle dignity, in the consciousness of rectitude and high inten- 
tions. He asked for writing materials, which I furnished him: 
he wrote two letters, one to his mother and one to a brother 

Without quoting Montresor further, Hull hurries over the 
rest of the ghastly story in his own words: "He was shortly after 
summoned to the gallows. But a few persons were around him, 
yet his characteristic dying words were remembered. He said, 
1 only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country/ " 

The famous dying words are thus fully authenticated. Mon- 
tresor had heard them only a few hours earlier, when he re- 
peated them to Hull and Hamilton. They were, in fact, 
derived from a line in Joseph Addison's Cato: 

Nathan Hale A Wasted Hero 121 

What pity Is it 
That we can die but once to serve our country! 

The play was much read by educated Americans and was often 
In the mind of Washington, whose writings frequently quoted 
or paraphrased passages from it. Hale's eager reading and his 
activity in the Linonian Society as a Yale undergraduate, all 
indicate a knowledge of the English classics. In fact, a letter 
still extant, written to him by a girl with whom he corre- 
sponded, quotes from Cato, though it does not quote this pas- 

He had gone to war, quoting a tag from Horace; 

Dulce et decorum est pro p atria mori. 

His career as an American soldier began and ended in the same 
mood, each time with a quotation from the classics, as befitted 
a scholar in arms. 

Hale must have handed the farewell letters to Montresor, 
who must have passed them over, however reluctantly, to Cun- 
ningham, instead of bringing them across the lines later in the 

The executioner was probably Richmond, the mulatto who 
usually served as British hangman. Hangings in that day were 
offhand affairs. A noose was thrown over the limb of a tree or 
a simple timber frame. The victim, bound, was forced to stum- 
ble up a ladder. He was then forced to jump, was pushed off 
or had the ladder pulled from under him. Andre stood on a 
cart, which was drawn away to let him drop. Hale's body was 
probably left hanging, as a warning to others, as was the custom 
of the day. British soldiers, with grisly humor, found "in a 
rebel Gentleman's garden, a painted soldier on a board," 
perhaps an old inn sign. This they hung up beside the swing- 
ing corpse, labeling it General Washington. 

Sometime between December 26, 1776, and January 25, 1777 
(not very long after Hale's death), Major John Palsgrave Wyllys, 
who had been captured September 15, during the American 
retreat from New York, was exchanged. The Reverend Enoch 
Hale rode to Wethersfield, Connecticut, to see him and inquire 


about his brother's death. Being himself in confinement, 
Wyllys had not seen Nathan Hale, but he had spoken with 
Cunningham soon after the hanging. As Enoch Hale records 
It in his diary: "He saw my Brother's Diploma which the 
Provost Marshall showed him who also had two letters of his 
one to me, the other to his commanding officer written after he 
was sentenced.'* 

Probably Captain William Hull was right when he noted 
that "The Provost Martial, in the diabolical spirit of cruelty, 
destroyed the letters of the prisoner, and assigned as a reason 
'that the rebels should never know they had a man who could 
die with so much firmness.' " 

Undeterred by Hale's fate, a spy named Joshua Davis who 
would later assist the successful Culper ring of American spies 
on Manhattan and Long Island entered the British lines al- 
most immediately, returned safely, and was paid September 29, 


. * * 

Spy Catching on the Hudson 

THE SECRET SERVICES of both sides became more active along 
the Hudson as soon as Howe's army had occupied New York. 
A hastily improvised American espionage soon began to pene- 
trate the city, while the Tories in the already existing British 
net continued their espionage, together with active, though 
surreptitious, recruiting. Howe's officers had great confidence 
in the accuracy of the military intelligence which their spy 
rings supplied. An American secret agent heard a British intel- 
ligence officer declare, late in 1776 or early in 1777, "that by 
means of their Emisaries they were informed of every thing 
that passed among us and that Women were the most proper 
persons for that purpose" the first suggestion that female 
agents were being used. 

Though there was still no adequate American espionage, 
some secret agents began to get into New York, secure a cer- 
tain amount of information, and get safely out again; and the 
system swiftly improved. In 1776, the Mersereau family had 
begun the espionage (first on Staten Island, later in New York) 
which they were to continue to the end of the war. 

At first, both sides gained a good deal of information from 
ordinary travelers, since each army allowed people on private 



business to go back and forth with dangerous freedom. British 
intelligence officers, well aware how much information refugees 
and temporary visitors brought with them, picked them up for 
interrogation as soon as they reached New York. But, since 
they allowed many to go home again, nearly as much informa- 
tion as the British themselves secured, leaked back to the Amer- 

Thus, one Alexander Cruikshank, entering New York on 
March 10, 1777, was met at the ferry and sent to General James 
Robertson to give information on the American militia. Wil- 
liam Cunningham, the provost marshal who had hanged 
Nathan Hale, soon appeared with questions about American 
fortifications. Though General Washington was later remark- 
ably successful in feeding false information to the enemy, ef- 
forts by such casual visitors to deceive British interrogators 
were not likely to succeed. One patriot, otherwise unknown, 
named Cummings, when questioned by General Robertson 
about this time, tried to make him believe that the Americans 
had forty or fifty thousand men. Robertson cut him off with 
the curt remark "that they knew better/' Yet both Cruikshank 
and Cummings brought back military intelligence of value to 
the Americans. 

With people going back and forth so freely, many British 
military secrets leaked out. The most important was the gen- 
eral plan of Burgoyne's intended march via Ticonderoga down 
the Hudson, which was reported to the New York State Com- 
mittee on Conspiracies on February 15, 1777, thirteen days be- 
fore Burgoyne submitted his written plan to the kingin 
London! The American spy who brought the information from 
Manhattan predicted that Burgoyne would march south; that 
Howe, after capturing Philadelphia, would attack the rebel 
forts blocking the Hudson, and would then co-operate with 
Burgoyne; that Howe and Burgoyne would jointly attack New 
England. All of this intelligence was confirmed by another 
agent a month later (March 17, 1777). Both men had probably 
heard officers discussing plans made before Burgoyne sailed for 

The information was remarkably accurate. Everything hap- 

Spy Catching on the Hudson 125 

pened exactly as predicted, with two exceptions: It was Clinton, 
not Howe, who attacked the American forts; and, after Bur- 
goyne had surrendered, there could be no British attack on 
New England. 

Both these American spies knew all about British efforts to 
hire Russian troops for the American campaign a scheme 
much favored by Sir Henry Clinton, who had observed the Rus- 
sian Army. It came to nothing only because Catherine the 
Great scornfully refused to sell her subjects. 

Not only were the rebels in 1776 able to get secret agents in 
and out of New York; they were also able to catch some of the 
British agents sent against them. Four days after he reached 
New York (April 13, 1776) and long before the enemy arrived, 
General Washington took steps to close their "regular Channel 
of intelligence" from the city. He knew the British had such a 
system, "by which they are, from time to time, made acquainted 
with the number and extent of our Works, our Strength, and 
all our movements." Before he arrived, New Yorkers had been 
selling supplies and even arms to the enemy's warships. This, 
too, was stopped, at least in part, especially after the New York 
Provincial Congress set up Committees for Conspiracies; but 
the patriots' counter-intelligence measures were not always ef- 

Nevertheless, the Americans soon began to lay a good many 
of the enemy's agents by the heels. In July, 1776, they found 
a man "Dressed in Women Close trying to go above the ferry" 
perhaps at Hoboken. When stripped, searched, and found to 
have two letters, he was at once confined; but there the record 
ends. It is by no means certain he was hanged, for American 
jails could not always hold the enemy's resourceful agents. One 
Samuel MacFarlane, for example, arrested at the house of a 
certain John McDale, escaped at once, with his host's aid; and, 
though McDale himself was ordered to appear in court, the 
suspected spy had disappeared for good. 

In September, 1776, a certain William Wallace, "taken up 
upon susption," also escaped. A scouting party picked him up 
again on April i, 1777, at "Cutlensman" (Courtland Manor), 
but Wallace, a persevering fellow, escaped a second time. 


When he was caught again, it was discovered that he had car- 
ried secrecy so far as to disguise his horse! He owned a brown 
mare with a white blaze. He had colored the white hairs black. 
The committee asked a natural "question why he altered the 
mark in the face of the mare." Wallace was perfectly frank 
about it: "the mare was well None and he did it that he should 
Not Be discovered" practically a confession of guilt. 

It was difficult to detect the secret Tory militia companies, 
which the British established with great speed. Howe disem- 
barked on Staten Island June 30, 1776. By July his secret army 
extended, behind the American lines, as far up the Hudson as 
Albany, where there was a company of fifty men and three of- 
ficers. As a reward for its services, the regiment to which this 
company belonged was to be given a tract of land six miles 
square. The fact that land grants were allotted by regiments, 
shows how large a secret army the Tories meant to raise. 

It was not long before the Hudson Valley buzzed with mys- 
tery. Furtive messengers passed down isolated country lanes at 
night. Wakeful women by midnight windows watched groups 
of armed men, stealthily passing. Lonely farmhouses opened 
noiseless doors to silently arriving travelers. Companies of Tory 
guerrillas, behind their neighbors' backs, secretly prepared 
to fight for their king, then slipped away to join the redcoats. 
Reports from innumerable spies sped down the river to Howe's 
headquarters; and straight through this web of intrigues passed 
unobtrusive couriers, mysterious travelers on the king's busi- 
ness, between Canada and the "lower party/' on Manhattan. 

The organization was very skillful. Howe's recruiting agents 
knew where to find sympathizers' houses and secret hideouts. 
One Tory recruiting agent explained "ther was not much 
dainger of Being Ketch d for the Torys had prepared private 
Cellars a long the way." 

By 1777, however, the Committee on Conspiracies was ac- 
tively ferreting out both the Tory militia and the Tory spies, 
and was hanging a good many men who badly needed it. One 
of the first victims was Daniel Strang, who, when brought 
before a court-martial in January, admitted he was recruiting 
for the enemy, but denied he was a spy. The evidence, how- 

Spy Catching on the Hudson 127 

ever, showed that he had both recruited and supplied Informa- 
tion. He was sentenced to be "Hanged by the Neck Untlil he 
be Dead Dead Dead." 

When, in April, 1777, American militia surrounded and 
searched the house of John Hunt, at White Plains, they found, 
first, "some Oranges, Tea & some Buckles," then a man hiding 
between a straw mattress and a feather bed. Tea and oranges 
w^ere British Importations. Besides, why was the stranger hid- 
ing? A man doesn't sequestrate himself between a straw mat- 
tress and a feather bed merely out of a desire for privacy. 
Searching further, the Americans found, in a back room, one 
Simon Mabie (or Mabee), with a warrant issued by General 
William Howe, authorizing him to enlist Tory recruits. This 
was dated March 30, 1777, only a few days earlier. There was 
also a certificate of Mabie's loyalty to the king, dated March 29. 

A court-martial at Peekskill heard testimony that Mabie had 
already enlisted some soldiers for the royal forces and sentenced 
him to hang. Presently one of his recruits was also captured, 
court-martialed, and likewise sentenced to hang. Mabie per- 
haps a relative of another Tory, Peter Maybe, of Saratoga, who 
survived to guide Burgoyne had been caught within two weeks 
of his arrival. 

In May, 1777, General Washington was alarmed to learn that 
a British captain, a British lieutenant and two British sergeants 
were among his troops, disguised as countrymen; but no one 
was ever able to find these spies and others like them, though 
their presence and sometimes even their physical appearance 
was known. There was, for instance, a British agent with a 
"withered" hand, who ought to have been easily identified, and 
"a middle sized Indian of about 50 years of age," who carried 
messages to Clinton in New York. Neither was ever caught. 

In May, another court-martial at Fort Montgomery, on the 
Hudson, passed a death sentence on two men named Alexander 
Campbell and Arthur McKenny, for giving aid, comfort and in- 
telligence to the British. Campbell was further charged with 
corresponding with the enemy and concealing British secret 
agents. Another conspirator, Arnout Viele, was also sentenced 
to the noose, May 23. Jacobus Rose and Jacob Midagh were 


ordered hanged for British recruiting, and their petition for re- 
prieve was rejected on the very day of the execution. 

Not all the sentences were so severe. Courts-martial, in more 
lenient moods, passed sentences of imprisonment for a year, six 
months or only three months, or fines as low as fifteen dollars, 
or sentenced Tories to be branded with a hot iron in the form 
of the letter "T." In some cases the patriots' leniency was truly 
surprising. A suspected clergyman, ordered to leave New York 
state, was eventually allowed to remain on parole. When the 
mother of a Tory prisoner complained that she needed her 
son's support, the Committee for Conspiracies obligingly let 
him out on bail. The wife of a Tory on active duty with the 
enemy was gallantly sent to join him under flag of truce. Other 
wives whose husbands were in the enemy's ranks were allowed 
to remain in their homes for years, until, in 1781, a state law 
at last compelled their departure. 

Various methods were used to detect the British spies and 
secret recruiting agents. American agents provocateurs were 
not uncommon convinced patriots, who pretended to be To- 
ries till their victims were entrapped. One such provocateur, 
a Bostonian named Edward Davis, went about Albany posing 
as a British officer and in British uniform which should have 
been enough to warn any genuine Tory that he was not what 
he seemed. Nevertheless, one of his dupes was foolish enough 
to offer him a list of volunteers to send to General Howe, con- 
cealed in a hollow staff. 

Occasionally, some outraged patriot took a hand as a volun- 
teer detective. Such a man was Simon Newall, or Newell, who 
lived near Peekskill. Chance has preserved a remarkably full 
account of his success in exposing several active members of the 
Tory underground. His special quarry was a man named John 

Newall went to work entirely on his own initiative, though, 
unlike most amateur spy catchers, he took the laudable precau- 
tion of first getting official approval. He went to General 
Oliver Wolcott, a Connecticut brigadier in Israel Putnam's di- 
vision, and explained what he wanted to do. Since John Likely 
was already under suspicion he had been a tenant of the Tory, 

Spy Catching on the Hudson 129 

Colonel Beverly Robinson, later Involved in the Arnold treason 
any prospect of trapping him roused official interest. Newall 
proposed to take "a Proper Person" with him and call at 
Likely's house for shelter, which would seem entirely natural 
In those days, when almost any farmhouse would take in a trav- 
eler for the night. Once in the Tory's home, Newall proposed 
"to Personate one Dissafected to his Count r y and on my way to 
join Gen 1 How and ingage in his service as Many as posible." 
It was too bad to abuse Likely's hospitality to get him hanged; 
but war is war, and the counterintelligence service has never 
been a place for squeamish people. Nothing whatever indicates 
that either Newall or General Wolcott had any compunctions. 
Having heard NewalFs scheme, the general gave It his blessing. 

As the "Proper Person" to go with him, Newall chose a friend 
named Eleazar Curtis, and the pair went off one rainy night to 
Likely's house, asked for a night's shelter, and were warmly 
received. They told their prospective victim that they came 
from the Upper Nine Partners Mine a plausible tale, since 
there was such a mine not very far away, and it was then work- 
ingand were trying to "spy out a way" to send recruits to 
General Howe. There was no exchange of sign and counter- 
sign, no recognition conversations, no display of agreed tokens. 
The trusting Likely, who was clearly not cut out for a life of 
intrigue, took the two strangers for exactly what they said they 
were, and also took them straight to his heart. 

Newall and Curtis may have been extraordinarily good ac- 
tors or Likely may have been an overconfiding innocent. 
Whichever was the case, when Newall and Curtis revealed their 
supposedly mysterious errand as British agents, Likely fell in- 
stantly into the pitfall. Or, as the exultant Newall later put 
it, "John Likely after we had divulg* 3 our Business Rejoiced 
at it and gladly receive [d] us as true subjects of King gorge. 
many things were said by him & us Relative to the Rebel Army 
and Gen 1 Hows, in all of which he evidently manifested a firm 
attachment to and friendship for the latter but an avow d dis- 
safection to the former calling them the Whigs, The Rebels, 
the Hot Heads, &c." 

Still foolish enough to accept these wandering and unidenti- 


fied strangers as being exactly what they said they were, Likely 
rushed into eager explanations. He told them just how the 
British Army's local volunteer spies were watching the Ameri- 
can forces in Worcester. They knew, he said, "all the move- 
ments of the Provential Army and of their march towards Dan- 
bury, and further said the friends of government had Persons 
Redy when ever gen 1 M c Dougal marched to carry the intelli- 
gence to the Regulars." 

With his fish well hooked, Newall proceeded to feed him a 
little more bait. He asked how to find "True subjects to the 
King that I kneed not fear to tell my Business." With incredi- 
ble naivete Likely rose to the lure. 

"I have repeatedly," he said, "in the course of the last winter 
and this spring Harbured, assisted and Pioleted King Gorge 
subjects on their way to N. York and ever will when in my 
power assist and help the side of Government." 

Probably, at this stage, Likely heard a few admiring mur- 
murs, meant to encourage him to further indiscreet disclosures. 
Utterly gulled, the poor fellow plunged recklessly ahead, as if 
determined to incriminate himself. 

"I have Intelligence from N. York every week," he boasted, 
"and soon expect to see the Regulars in possession of this Place 
and then 'twill be better times." 

Newall now led him on until he disclosed the names of fellow 
Tories, also engaged in intrigues against the American cause. 
Likely rattled off the names of Anthony Umaman (or Uman), 
"a good man & true subject," Peter Drake, Benjamin Field, one 
Valentine Lounsbury (or Lomaree) and a man named Freten- 
borough, living near the Croton Bridge. Fretenborough would 
be a great help to them, the besotted Likely told the supposed 
Tories, for he could get them across the Croton River always 
an obstacle to secret travelers, heading for New York City. 

The two counterintelligence men listened eagerly. All these 
revelations had a certain interest. Some of the news they heard 
was startling. Umaman had always appeared to be on the Amer- 
ican side, was a member of the patriot Committee of Safety, 
and had served in the American militia. 

Likely passed the two American agents on to his neighbor, 

Spy Catching on the Hudson 131 

the supposed" patriot, Umaman, who, after a few inquiries, was 
convinced of the strangers' good faith and began to talk as reck- 
lessly as their first victim. He had assisted many people on their 
way to the British, Umaman said, and "was glad of the opper- 
tunity." True, he admitted, he was posing as a patriot. "He was 
a Committee man but he could not help it that he seldom sat 
with them had been Drafted as a soldier and once went a short 
Campaign but twas to still Peoples talk and save him self from 
Trouble." He warned against the local American commander, 
Brigadier General Alexander McDougall: "Old McDougal was 
Dd sharp." 

Umaman went on to explain that Reuben Drake, chairman 
of the patriot Committee of Safety, was also helping the British. 
If Newall and Curtis wanted to get through the American lines, 
Drake, because of his high position among the local patriots, 
was the man to help them. He "had given Passes to people on 
the same Design, to secure them from the Rebels." 

This was news indeed. Newall and Curtis hastily made men- 
tal notes, but kept their faces straight. 

As if determined to get himself into as many difficulties as 
possible, Umaman stepped through the door to show them the 
quickest way to reach the houses of the men he had just named. 
The Americans went to the Drake homestead, but found too 
many people there and, fearing discovery if they went farther, 
started back to report to the patriot authorities. To their dis- 
may, they met Likely on the road, but they still had not roused 
his suspicions. 

Likely pointed out a supposedly safer route "acrost that lot," 
and the two got out of sight as quickly as possible. Only when 
they felt secure from observation once more, did they turn 
toward General Alexander McDougall's headquarters. That 
officer was delighted. 

"Go on by all means," he told them. 

As Curtis was now coming down with "Fever and ague" (in 
other words, malaria), Newall left him behind and, with one 
S. Hoskiss as his new companion, hurried to the home of Peter 
(not Reuben) Drake, whom the agents soon found to be a gen- 
uine Tory. From his house, they went on to find Daniel 


Strang, who was not at home. His Tory family urged these 
loyal friends to wait for him, and Strang soon arrived. 

Strang was as full of royalist sentiment and good advice as 
the two others; but he warned the counterintelligence men^ to 
"be exceeding carefull for the Army Hanged a good many" 
as he had good reason to know, since the Daniel Strang hanged 
earlier in the year was certainly a relative and perhaps his 
father. Quite as incautious as Umaman, he repeated a list of 
local Tory names and gladly agreed to shelter an entirely imagi- 
nary detachment of Tory troops that the two American spies 
said would soon be following them. 

Strang sent his son out to see whether the way was clear, 
while the patriot spies hid in the barn. Strang, Junior, soon 
came back, with word that Benjamin Fields would be glad to 
lodge them for the night. 

Fields turned out to be a Quaker, loyal to constituted au- 
thority, as Quakers were likely to be, but opposed to war. He 
told his visitors they had better go home: "said he never ment 
to fight on either side, he chose to stay at home and would be 
glad the liberty People would let him alone, he would hurt 
nobody if they would not molest him." He added some advice: 
"Thee had better go home again and let everybody alone. 
... it is a Dreadfull thing to fight and kill folks." 

"I could not live at Home in Peace but should be Drafted 
for the Continental Army," Newall told him, "and if I must 
fight I would fight on the Right side and stand for my King." 

"Ay, friend," said the Quaker, "thee art Right again, but 
thee must be exceeding carefull for if thee is taken and caried 
into Peeks Kill twill go very Hard with thee." 

In the morning this pacific monarchist passed them on to 
Valentine Lounsbury, who gave them four more Tory names 
and sent them on. Each Tory they met was as innocently confid- 
ing as his predecessor. When to one Thomas Levinus they told 
"the old story that we told them all," this simple soul replied: 

"God bless you then you are not the first and I hope not the 
last who will go over to the Kings side." 

When they inquired about a man named Huson, whom 
Lounsbury had foolishly mentioned, Levinus volunteered 

Spy Catching on the Hudson 133 

further damaging Information: "huson had a number of men 
and ment to go into New York that very night and he was a 
Dam'd good fellow and had another Dam'd good fellow with 
him." The second damned good fellow was a certain Lent Far 
"who I afterwards took/' says Newali grimly. 

The American spies dined with Levinus, Huson, Far, and 
one or two other prospective victims, at the home of a Tory 
named Tompkins. Levinus seized the occasion to incriminate 
himself further. He "God Bless d the good luck that so many 
had gone and were going to How. hoped the Dam-nd Rebels 
would get Defeated and more to the same import." 

Lent Far, chiming in, proceeded to convict himself of trea- 
son. Chatting gaily with the patriot agents, he told them "he 
came from the great nine partners [that is, the mine], had been 
with Huson some time, had two mates Came with him but they 
were taken by the Dam'd Rebels which he swore he never 
would for he would fight till he Died before he would be 
Taken, said his Design was to go into York, said Huson and 
himself could go when they Pleas d for they knew all about the 
Damd Rebel Guards and they had good Guns and amonition 
enough, said he ment to set out with Huson that very night but 
was glad to wait till the next Monday night for our Recruits 
which was the Time we agreed to meet at Tomkins House. 
Lent Far manifested every expression of joy at so many Coming 
to join their Party. Far said he had been In the Rebel service 
but he never would again, said huson and his business was to 
plunder the whiggs and they had as good will to kill them as a 
Dogg. Far said he had known many to go into N. York and 
many more would, said he would go and join How himself and 
fight his way through the Reble guards to get there or Die. we 
all Dined Heartily, Drank King George Health and Hows, con- 
fusion to Congress and Washington &c." 

With enough evidence to convict the whole Tory group, the 
counterintelligence men made once more for their own head- 
quarters. Newali himself arrested Far a little later. 

If Newali and his superiors had known a little more about 
the game they were playing, they would have let this little knot 
of Tory conspirators alone and worked one or two of their own 


men into the ring; or they would, in some other way, have main- 
tained a friendly and co-operative contact with them. They 
would thus have known all about future recruits going to New 
York, who could easily be gathered up at the American outpost 
line, if outpost commanders were forewarned. American head- 
quarters would thus have gained useful insight into the British 
intelligence system and it would have been possible to feed 
General Howe some thoroughly unreliable information a trick 
which General Washington soon began to employ. 

The Americans, however, were too inexperienced to realize 
this possibility. The men were traitors. Arrest them! Some- 
body with stars on his shoulder probably pounded a desk. 

Within about a month, Likely and Umaman were facing a 
court-martial, convened by General McDougall at Peekskill. 

The charges against Likely were sweeping enough to satisfy 
any judge advocate: "Treason against the State of New York in 
adhering to the King of Great Britain, at open War with the 
United American States aiding and abeting the unnatural War 
against them, declaring they had & would do it, comforting the 
Enemies of these States and acting as Spies 8c Agents for the 

Newall, Curtis and Hodgkiss (so the name is now given) ap- 
peared as witnesses against him. Newall's evidence mostly re- 
peated what he had already said in his report, adding only the 
fact that Likely had boasted: "a Night or two before Thirteen 
had passed on their way to New York." Curtis confirmed New- 
all's story. 

The judge advocate now introduced another witness. On 
April 29, Newall's friend Hodgkiss, accompanied by Amsey 
Hart, had also visited Likely. According to Hodgkiss, "they 
told the Prisoner they were going to New York to join the 
Enemy, he seemed much pleased with their intentions, gave 
them directions at what Houses to stop on their way down, 
told them Twenty or Thirty had gone down a few days before 
chiefly Armed, he said he had afforded such sort of People 
meaning those were going to the Enemy, all the assistance in 
his Power, that he should have gone to the Enemy himself, but 
for his Family when they left him he wished them success & 

Spy Catching on the Hudson 135 

directed them which way to go." Amsey Hart added a few de- 

Though denied counsel, Likely did fairly well in his own 
defense. From the beginning, he said, he had distrusted Newall 
and Curtis. Finding they were Tories, he had "sent them to 
Anthony Umans [Umaman's] one of the Committee in order 
that they might be apprehended." What better evidence could 
there be of his devotion to the patriot cause? The trouble was 
that, by this time, everyone realized that the patriotism of Uma- 
man, too, was only skin deep. 

When Umaman was also brought before the same court- 
martial, Newall and Curtis again appeared as witnesses, but 
their testimony brought out little against him that was not 
already in evidence. 

The court-martial found both Likely and Umaman guilty, 
But the army officers sitting as its members began to feel 
doubts about "the propriety of this Court trying State Prison- 
ers," even though the New York State Convention had author- 
ized it to do so. The officers had further qualms about the 
failure to provide the defendants with counsel. They also 
thought them entitled to a jury trial. And, furthermore, said 
the court-martial, "we fear whilst we are Strugling for the 
Sacred Name of Liberty we are establishing the fatal Tendency 
to Despotism/' 

It may be that the defendants Likely and Umaman (who were 
unquestionably guilty) owed their lives to these scruples. The 
court-martial's hesitation did not, however, prevent it from 
sentencing each to a hundred lashes and imprisonment through- 
out the war. 

Spy Catchers Extraordinary 

IN THE LATTER half of 1776, the rather hlt-or-miss methods by 
which the New York state civilian authorities had been running 
down spies improved; and a regular group of counterintelli- 
gence men was set up, mainly under the direction of John Jay, 
the future Chief Justice, and Nathaniel Sackett, another leading 
figure of the day. At least ten agents worked under their orders. 
Four Enoch Crosby, Martin Cornwill (or Cornell), Nicholas 
Brower and John Haines seem to have been continuously at 
work. The others Benjamin Pitcher, William Denney, Henry 
Wooden, Joseph Bennett, Elijah Frost and Samuel Hopkins- 
were probably called on irregularly, when needed. Various 
other local patriots co-operated, including one of the local physi- 
cians; and militia forces were always ready for raids and arrests. 
The most successful of all these counterintelligence agents, 
and the only one about whom anything is now known, was the 
shoemaker, Enoch Crosby, from whom James Fenimore Cooper 
no matter what he himself said about it took many of the 
traits of Harvey Birch, hero of his novel, The Spy. A whole 
book (two whole books, if you count The Spy as well as Crosby's 
own volume) deals with his adventures; and his story is now 
confirmed by his own detailed manuscript narrative (supported 


Spy Catchers Extraordinary 137 

by numerous affidavits from his associates), a document which 
has lain, unknown, in the archives, ever since the aging secret 
agent signed It. 

Born in Harwich, Massachusetts, Crosby had been brought 
up in the town of Southeast (near Carmel, New York) and had 
learned the trade of cordwainer (shoemaker) In Phillipstown 
(now Kent), Connecticut. He was living in Danbury when the 
news of Lexington came. 

Crosby, the first man to respond to the call for recruits for a 
Danbury company, saw service in the Invasion of Canada, after 
which he returned to civil life, his health having suffered from 
the hardships of the campaign. Late in August, 1776, he en- 
listed again, at Carmel, New York, and set out for the American 
camp, at Kingsbridge. 

Mistaken by a Westchester Tory named Bunker for a royalist 
sympathizer, he wormed his way Into the man's confidence so 
deftly that he was soon being introduced to various pro-British 
plotters, and learning all about a Tory company which was 
getting ready to "go down" to the British in New York, within 
a few days. He learned even the names of the officers, which 
might be helpful in making arrests. 

Once he had secured this intelligence, Crosby explained to 
the confiding Tories that he himself must start for the British 
lines at once. Changing direction as soon as he was out of sight, 
he made for the house of "Esquire" Young, whom he knew 
to be a member of the Conynittee of Safety. Young took him to 
John Jay and the committee at White Plains, who asked him to 
help capture the newly recruited Tory company, and promised 
to explain to his regimental commander why he had not re- 
ported for duty, after which they sent him, as a "prisoner/* to 
the company of rangers stationed in the town. 

The ostensible captive soon "made an excuse to go out'* un- 
der guard the excuse probably being the lack of sanitary facili- 
ties. Whatever his pretext was, it led him over a fence, into a 
patch of tall corn, and out of sight of the soldier guarding him. 
There was much banging of muskets, and the spy, after a most 
convincing "escape," returned to join the Tories. 

When the new Tory company was ready to march, Crosby 


made a stealthy trip from Bunker's house to Young's, four or 
five miles away, where he met the American ranger captain 
from whom he had "escaped/' After giving full details of Tory 
plans, he rejoined the enemy safely, in time to be impressively 
arrested with the others. He was allowed to remain a prisoner 
for about a week in various places, ending in a hatter's shack 
in Fishkill, from which he was bailed out. 

Jay now retained him as a permanent secret agent, again 
promising to set matters right with his regimental commander. 
Gathering some tools in a peddler's pack and posing as an itiner- 
ant shoemaker, Crosby wormed his way into a Tory household, 
where he soon learned of another new company of Tory recruits 
and, by scraping acquaintance with its captain, was himself 
invited to enlist. Hoping to learn the identity of the recruits, 
Crosby protested that he did not want to join unless some of his 
friends were among them, and thus managed to see the muster 
roll. When the American agent professed to find no one there 
he knew, the Tory captain showed him special, confidential 
rolls, hidden under a flat stone, then completed his folly by dis- 
playing a place to hide recruits in a hollow haystack. 

Before midnight, Crosby was reporting everything to the 
patriot committee in White Plains; before dawn he was safely 
in bed in the home of his Tory host. Next morning, he joined 
the company, though declining to sign the muster roll till he 
was within the British lines. 

When the entire Tory force met at its commander's house 
that night, American mounted rangers closed in. Crosby was 
hauled out of the closet in which he had hidden, and dragged 
off in irons with the others, first to White Plains and Peekskill, 
later to Fort Montgomery, a hint being passed to him to con- 
tinue his Tory pose till another escape could be arranged. 

At Fort Montgomery, Crosby had an embarrassing encounter 
with a former teacher, who was also a friend of his father's. 
Horrified "on beholding his favorite pupil, the son of his dear- 
est friend, manacled like a felon, and dragged to prison, with a 
gang of unprincipled wretches," the pedagogue promptly passed 
the bad news on to the Crosby family. Since there was nothing 
else to do, the American spy went right on posing as a Tory and 

Spy Catchers Extraordinary 139 

presently found himself once more a prisoner. A fellow Ameri- 
can soldier remarked later that he was surprised to see Enoch 
Crosby arrested so often and escaping so easily! 

Meeting with the committee again, secretly, the pseudo-Tory 
agreed to sign future reports "John Smith" (later he also used 
the names of Levi Foster and John or Jacob Brown) and was 
returned to prison with orders to manage his own escape. Forc- 
ing a window during the night, Crosby got out; but he had gone 
only fifty yards when he encountered a sentry and ran for his 
life, dodging a fusillade of American bullets. 

Still posing as a shoemaker, Crosby made his way to Marl- 
boro, New York, on the west bank of the Hudson, above New- 
burgh. This was at the end of October, since he mentions 
hearing the firing at the Battle of White Plains, October 28, 
1776. As "John Smith, a faithful friend to his majesty," he was 
introduced to another British officer and was again welcomed 
as a promising recruit. 

In about a week this new Tory company was ready for a 
rendezvous at Butter Hill, near Cornwall, New York; and 
Crosby was again ready to report. On November 4, 1776, the 
spy sent a trusted courier to the Committee of Safety: 

I hasten this express to request you to order Captain 
Townsend's company of Rangers, to repair immediately 
to the barn, situated on the west side of Butter-Hill, and 
there to secrete themselves until we arrive, which will be 
to-morrow evening, probably about eleven o'clock; where, 
with about thirty tones, they may find, 

Your obedient servant, 


An answer came back before Crosby set out for the rendezvous. 
He joined the Tory band, who were resting in a haymow, 
knowing they had a night's march ahead of them. Presently the 
waiting secret agent heard someone cough, outside. It was Colo- 
nel William Duer, of the Committee of Safety. Crosby coughed, 
too. Duer and Townsend, with a party of rangers, burst in. For 
the benefit of his audience, Crosby hid in the hay; but, when 


"fifty bayonets were instantly plunged into as many different 
sections of the haymow/' he hastily reappeared. 

Though Duer knew perfectly well what Crosby was doing, he 
dared not tell Townsend, who, recognizing the "Tory" prisoner 
that had escaped from the church at Fishkill, at once had him 
securely bound. In view of his record and former escapes, the 
American agent was now jailed in a specially secure room in 
the house of John Jay, who employed him! Jay was not at 
home, or at any rate did not appear; but a quick-thinking maid 
opened some of his best French brandy, drugged it, put both 
Townsend and his sentry to sleep with it, stole a key from the 
pocket of the slumbering officer, and released Crosby. 

When the fugitive expressed fears for her safety, the girl told 
him only, "Dr. Millers opiates are wonderfully powerful when 
mixed with brandy," and sent him off with the assurance: "I 
shall be at Hopewell by the time the alarm is given." Though 
the name Miller is used in the printed account of this exploit, 
Crosby's manuscript statement gives the name as something that 
looks like "Oisboden." 

Still hampered by his irons, Crosby paused in a thicket to get 
rid of them. That he was twice able to free himself of hand- 
cuffs would seem incredible were there not evidence that other 
British prisoners found American irons equally insecure. The 
Tory spy, James Moody, in General Washington's own guard- 
house, and the British lieutenant governor of Detroit, Henry 
Hamilton, in Thomas Jefferson's jail, both freed themselves of 
fetters with no great difficulty. 

Hiding the rest of the night and all next day on West Moun- 
tain, Crosby pushed south the following night, and, being fa- 
miliar with the terrain, was able to keep away from farmhouses, 
till he reached a house he knew was a Tory's. Soon afterward, 
in another farmhouse, he was trapped by two armed patriots, 
was recognized as a Tory spy, and was dragged off with the 
warning meant to be grim, though unintentionally comic 
that "Jay and Duer are determined to make an example of 
you." Fearing he might be killed before reaching either of his 
employers, Crosby produced a secret paper, hidden in the lining 
of his vest, and identified himself. 

Spy Catchers Extraordinary 141 . 

The harassed spy had hardly been released when he was ac- 
cused by a suspicious Tory, two miles farther on, of being 
exactly what he was. Crosby bluffed or fought his way to safety 
and, after making sure that Townsend's rangers had left Peeks- 
kill, managed to reach Duer's home unobserved. Since Crosby, 
now under suspicion by both sides, was temporarily useless, 
Duer let him take cover In a German household on Wappinger 
Creek, in Dutchess County, where another American agent, 
John Haines, was already reporting Tory activity. 

Two days later, Crosby was recalled to Fishkill, whence, be- 
cause the village was already dangerous for him, he was sent on 
to HopewelL Here Doctor Miller (or Oisboden), the physician 
who had supplied the opiates used on the guards at John Jay's 
house, was to find a safe place for Crosby to confer with a mem- 
ber of the committee that afternoon. Like many medical men 
of the time, the doctor also ran a drugstore. The doctor was not 
at home, but Crosby was received by a girl whose face seemed 
vaguely familiar. 

Seeing his puzzled look, the maiden murmured demurely: 
"Dr. Miller's opiates, you recollect, are very powerful when 
mixed with brandy." 

She was the maid at Jay's house, whom Crosby had seen only 
In the dark. This resourceful damsel gave "Mr. Brown" (manu- 
script sources show that Crosby used this name, as one of his 
pseudonyms) a seat by the fire, to await the doctor's return. 
Crosby spent the evening listening to a lively discussion, by the 
doctor's waiting patients, of his own exploits as a British spy. 
It was both useful and gratifying to learn that he had such a bad 

Presently John Jay himself came in, ostensibly to buy medi- 
cine. While Crosby politely held his stirrup, Jay whispered an 
order to return to the German farmer, to avoid discovery. 
Crosby obediently remained on the farm, as the peaceful cob- 
bler, "Jacob Brown," making shoes for the family, until well on 
in December, 1776. He was then ordered, by way of Benning- 
ton, Vermont, to Sharon, Connecticut, to report on Tories 
there. To make his pose as a loyal subject of George III more 
convincing, the committee supplied him with a bundle of Brit- 


ish proclamations, offering pardon to rebels, which Admiral 
Lord Howe, and his brother, General William Howe, had been 
spreading about the countryside. This made it easy to approach 
genuine Tories, but might have cost his life if he had been de- 
tected by his own side. 

Returning to Fishkill, he was sent off to Pawling, New York, 
in the general vicinity of Wappinger Creek. The patriot spy, 
John Haines, had reported on December 23, 1776, that a Tory 
militia company would soon rendezvous at the home of a cer- 
tain Captain Chapman, near Mount Ephraim. A few days later 
Nicholas Brower, another patriot agent, warned Nathaniel 
Sackett that there would be a Tory rendezvous probably the 
same one between Fishkill and Wappinger Creek. 

As soon as Haines's report came in, December 23, the com- 
mittee decided to have Crosby "use his utmost Art to discover 
the designs, Places of Resort, and Route of certain disaffected 
Persons in that Quarter, who have form'd a Design of Joining 
the Enemy." He was given all the information the committee 
had, a double set of passes one American, the other British, 
enabling him to pass both lines also thirty dollars, a horse, new 
clothing and a new name. This time, he was "Levi Foster." 
Sackett, instead of Jay, took charge of his mission. One Martin 
Cornwill, or Cornell, was also deep in the American plot. 

On December 30, 1776, John Jay authorized Sackett to alert 
Captain Peter Van Gaasbeek's militia company to apprehend 
"certain persons." By January 4, 1777, Sackett had preliminary 
reports from both his spies. On January 10, he suddenly re- 
membered something must be done to protect Crosby and wrote 
the captain: 

I had almost forgot to give you directions to Give our 
friend an opertunity of making his Escape Upon our plan 
you will Take him prisoner with this party you are now 
wateing for his name is Enoch Crosby Alias John Brown 
I could wish that he may escape before you bring him Two 
miles on your way to Committee. ... By no means neglect 
this friend of ours. 

Meantime Crosby had once again joined a company of Tory 

Spy Catchers Extraordinary 143 

recruits and had also made the acquaintance of a Tory physi- 
cian, Doctor Proesser, or Prosser, who at the moment had as a 
patient the lieutenant of the company. Doctor Proesser rashly 
told the patriot spy all about Tory plans, leaders and houses, 
meantime giving him a fine chance to make the lieutenant's ac- 

On February 9, 1777, Doctor Proesser brought Crosby word 
from Silvester Handy, a Tory agent. All was ready for the re- 
cruits to assemble. Crosby was to go to the house of one Enoch 
Hoag, another Tory. Here he tarried four or five days, undis- 
covered, taking notes of his host's disloyal talk, picking up 
information identifying the men who were guiding Tories to 
New York City, learning all about a force under Captain Zebu- 
Ion Ross, Jr., which included Connecticut Tory recruits. He 
passed from one Tory "safe house" to another, identifying more 
and more British agents, and, on the night appointed, was back 
at Enoch Hoag's to join the Tory recruits assembled there. 

Seeing that there was no chance of notifying the committee, 
which was holding Van Gaasbeek's company in readiness for a 
raid, Crosby passed the word to Colonel Andrew Morehouse, 
who lived only three miles from Hoag. Grimly, Morehouse 
promised "they should be attended to.** 

Some of the Tories gathering at Hoag's had noticed "a gath- 
ering under arms at old Morehouses," but, before anything 
could be done about it, there were American shouts of "Stand, 
stand!" The house had been surrounded. Tories who fled were 
at once met by militia "coming from a different direction," and 
presently the whole band were lashed together in pairs. 

Crosby tried to beg off, explaining to his captor that he was 
too lame to walk. Morehouse, who knew perfectly well who 
Crosby was and what he was doing, was very stern about it. 

"You shall go dead or alive," said he, "& if in no other way 
you shall be carried on the horse with me." Crosby was released 
on reaching the colonel's home. Morehouse marched his other 
prisoners off to the committee, reporting only that he had acted 
on information from "the Immissary" the committee knew 
well enough who "the Immissary" was. 

In spite of all efforts to conceal his identity and make things 


look natural, Crosby's series of successes had, by this time, 
destroyed his usefulness as a secret agent. He had joined one 
Tory company after another; each company he had joined 
had been seized; but Crosby always escaped. 

Since, by this time, there had been too many such coin- 
cidences, and he was a marked man among Westchester Tories, 
it was decided to send him to Albany, where he was still un- 
known; and, as smallpox had broken out there, he was sent 
to Doctor Miller (or Oisboden) for inoculation. After he had 
spent some time at Albany and Claverack, on the east side 
of the Hudson, acting openly in the transfer of Tory property, 
he was allowed to withdraw from the secret service entirely. 
John Jay had turned to other duties and Nathaniel Sackett 
would soon be managing an espionage ring on Manhattan 
Island, where Crosby lacked the necessary contacts. 

At last the spy's parents were allowed to know the truth 
about their son, and he returned to live openly with a brother 
in the Highlands, until Tory efforts to get revenge became 
dangerous. Once a bullet, fired through a window, grazed 
Crosby's neck. A militia officer who had assisted him was al- 
most shot through a window in his home, in the same way. 
This man escaped because he happened to be at table and a 
hesitant Tory exclaimed at the last minute: "Oh, it is too bad 
to shoot him while he is eating." 

A few nights after the first attempt on Enoch Crosby, armed 
Tories burst into the house. There was an exchange of shots. 
Then the leader yelled, "Let us pound him to death!" By 
the time they were through, Crosby lay unconscious, and the 
gang probably thought him dead. After a period o several 
months to recover from this assault, Crosby went back to the 
army, joined the 4th and later the 2nd New York Continental 
Line, and served to the end of the war. Compared to his 
earlier adventures, active duty at the front must have seemed 
a little dull. 

While the army caught fewer spies in the Hudson Valley 
than the Committee for Conspiracies, some of its cases were 
more sensational. Two of its most famous captures were Ed- 
mund Palmer and Daniel Taylor, the spy with the silver 

Spy Catchers Extraordinary 145 

Edmund Palmer was a Tory from Yorktown, Westchester 
County, who had joined a Tory regiment as lieutenant in 
1775, leaving his wife and children on his farm. Early In the 
spring of 1777, the British sent him back to his native West- 
Chester. Whatever else Palmer's mission may have been, It 
included both recruiting and espionage and may have Involved 
a plot to kill or capture Israel Putnam, then In command In 
Westchester. There Is no way of knowing how many trips 
Palmer had made within the American lines, before he was 

He undertook the final mission, which led to his capture and 
execution, In late June or early July of 1777. One afternoon 
between July 8 and 15, with a single companion, he entered 
a blacksmith shop, where perhaps by chance, more probably 
by Tory treachery he found Captain Henry Strang, of the 
grd Westchester Militia. The two spies overpowered the Amer- 
ican captain, pricked him with a bayonet when he tried to 
resist, and tied him up, after which, in broad daylight, they 
marched their prisoner about a quarter of a mile, across the 
the Croton River and into the woods. 

When the forlorn little procession was seen from a farm- 
house and a woman called to ask "what they had got there," 
Palmer boldly answered, "One of the Rebel Committee/* His 
rashness can be explained only by supposing that he felt safe 
in a district where there were so many Tories. 

When Strang asked a man named Griffen to let his family 
know what had become of him, Palmer threatened him: "If 
he said anything more about it he would Run him through, 
and pricked him again with his Bayonet." While he held 
Strang captive, Palmer had used his bayonet on the helpless 
man ten or twelve times "and Occasioned him to bleed in 
many spots." He seized Strang's pocketbook, probably look- 
ing for papers* then returned it. 

That night Strang in some way regained his freedom, though 
how he did it has never been explained. One story says he 
escaped; another that his captors set him free about eleven 
o'clock, first exacting a promise that he would not molest the 
owner of the blacksmith shop. This strongly suggests that 
had been betrayed into Palmer's merciless hands s and 


that Tories at the blacksmith shop were guilty. Otherwise, 
Palmer would have been indifferent to the smith's fate. 

It was not long before the hunt for the British agent was 
up; and it is sometimes said that Strang himself had the 
pleasure of catching his own late captor. All that is really 
known is that, about July 18, three militiamen brought Palmer 
to General Israel Putnam's headquarters. After search had 
revealed "enlisting papers" from Governor Tryon, the prisoner 
went to the provost guard on charges of "Robing the Inhabi- 
tence & Leving war Against his Country." 

On July 22, 1777, he went before a court-martial at Peek- 
skill. By this time the charges had been expanded, and he 
was tried for "Plundering, Robbing, and carrying off the Cattle, 
Goods, &c. from the well-effected Inhabitants and for being 
a Spy from the Enemy." The court found him guilty and 
ordered him hanged August first, between 9 and 1 1 A.M. The 
execution was later postponed for several days. 

Efforts to save Palmer began at once, a bit of luck few 
spies ever enjoy. The British command soon learned the story, 
as was inevitable with all Westchester County still swarming 
with undetected agents, continually reporting to New York. 
H.M.S. Mercury put in at Verplanck's Point on the east bank 
of the Hudson, with a flag of truce, sending an officer forward 
to General Putnam's camp at Peekskill, to warn him that, 
if Palmer was executed, the British would take reprisals. 

There are several versions of "Old Put's" reply. The spiciest 
and earliest printed text is given in General David Humphreys's 
life of Putnam: 


Nathan Palmer, a lieutenant in your King's service, was 
taken in my camp as a Spy he was tried as a Spy he was 
condemned as a Spy and you may rest assured, Sir, he 
shall be hanged as a Spy. 

I have the honour to be, 8c C. 


His Excellency Governor Tryon 
P.S. Afternoon. He is hanged. 

Spy Catchers Extraordinary 147 

The fact that this letter Is addressed to Governor Tryon, 
while the only known protest Is said to have come from General 
Mumford Brown, suggests that there may have been several 
protests and several replies. (Though the spy's name Is here 
and elsewhere given as Nathan, he was certainly named Ed- 
mund. Several early accounts make the same error.) 

The only existing manuscript dealing with the Palmer case 
and signed by Putnam is now In the Clements Library. It 

Head Quarters August 4th 1777 

This Certifies all whom It may Concern that Edmund 
Palmer an Officer from the Enemy was taken up as a Spy 
within our lines has been Tried & Condemned & will be 
Executed as Such and [words Illegible]. 

The Flagg Is hereby ordered to depart immediately 


As this manuscript is now in the Clinton papers, it must 
have been sent t>ack to New York with the returning flag of 
truce. It remains possible, however, that Putnam also wrote 
the letter to Tryon which Humphreys quotes, or one of its 
variants, since the British may have made several efforts to save 
their agent. 

There was a tragic interview between General Putnam and 
the condemned man's wife, who was still living in Yorktown, 
only a short distance away. The agonized woman came to 
headquarters with a child in her arms, pleaded for her husband's 
life, was refused, and had to be carried out in a faint. 

While he waited for execution, the doomed spy, trying to 
provide for his family's future, carefully set down an account 
of his property. The rebels, he knew, would seize everything 
he owned; but someday his king would do justice to his son. 
(In the end the British government allowed the boy 200 for 
his lost inheritance, cutting the claim down from 600.) Then, 
with his mind scarcely free from his careful inventory of cattle, 
horses, cheese, tallow, a saddle and a bridle, Palmer faced his 
end on a log gallows at Peekskill. 

Putnam may have specially wished to make an example of 


him, because a number of other British spies had lately been 
caught near Peekskill, one of whom, Daniel Curwen, "confessed 
he was sent out from N York by Col Robertson to make 
Discoveries of our Condition and Carry him Intelligence." Lord 
Stirling, the American general who claimed a Scottish earldom, 
ordered the man "immediately hung up before his Door/' 
Such execution without trial shocked Putnam, who immediately 
wrote General Washington to explain that he knew nothing 
about it till the poor devil was dead and buried. 

As Burgoyne's army moved southward from Canada in the 
summer of 1777, a continuous stream of secret messengers 
began to pass up and down the Hudson Valley, between his 
field headquarters and headquarters in New York. The British 
could communicate with Canada either by sea (in perfect 
safety) or by courier (at considerable risk); but after Burgoyne 
had started south, the only way to reach him was to send 
daring couriers, out of uniform and technically spies, straight 
through American territory. Sometimes, instead of making the 
whole journey, they met midway and exchanged dispatches. 
Livingston's Manor (between Rhinebeck and Kinderhook, New 
York) was one such rendezvous. 

It was dangerous and difficult for these couriers to get 
through. One of them did not even try. Henry Williams, of 
Peekskill, who had been paid to carry a letter to Burgoyne, 
in July, 1777, simply stopped en route and turned his message 
over to the patriots. Francis Hogel, alias Hope, and his guide, 
William Showers, were caught the same month, a week after 
leaving Burgoyne. Just before capture, Hogel was heard to 
remark that several of Burgoyne's messengers had never re- 

When it was discovered that "a mulatto wench" had passed 
through Poughkeepsie in August, bringing intelligence to local 
Tories, the Americans felt sure she had gone on to Burgoyne, 
as they could not catch her. "A Scotchman" got through from 
Clinton in early July, and, in September, Captain Scott, of the 
24th Regiment, reached Clinton with word that Burgoyne 
would hold on till September 16, if communication with Clin- 
ton could be kept open. Otherwise, he wanted to get back to 

Spy Catchers Extraordinary 149 

Canada before cold weather. This explains Clinton's offensive 
from New York up the Hudson three weeks later. 

The British took every precaution to conceal the messages 
they carried. At times, the hollow quills of large feathers were 
used. Some messages, still extant in the Clinton papers, have 
been cut into a series of long, narrow strips, evidently to make 
insertion in the quills easier. The idea seems to have been 
that, if in danger, a courier could get rid of such papers more 
easily than if folded. 

A far better means of preserving secrecy was the use of code 
^ masks." These were sheets of paper, with openings cut into 
them. The real message was written in these openings, after 
which the lines were filled in to make the document read as 
if it were something quite different. The officer receiving the 
letter merely laid his mask over it, so that the original message 

One such letter from Clinton to Burgoyne, August 10, 1777, 
reads like an ordinary message until it is covered with a paper 
mask, which has a large opening in the shape of a dumb-bell cut 
out of it. Laid upon Sir Henry's apparently harmless communi- 
cation, the mask at once reveals the secret. Without the mask, 
the whole letter reads: 

You will have heard, D r Sir I doubt not long before this 
can have reached you that Sir W. Howe is gone from hence. The 
Eebels imagine that he is gone to the Southward. By this time 
however he has filled Cheasapeak bay with surprize and terror. 

Washington marched the greatest part of the Eebels to Philadelphia 
in order to oppose Sir W ms army. I hear he is now returned upon 
finding none of our troops landed but am not sure of this, great part 
of his troops are returned for certain I am sure this [illegible] 
must be vain to them. I am left to command here, half my force may 
I am sure defend every thing here with as much safety I shall therefore 
send Sir W. 4 or 5bat n I have too small a force to invade the New England 
provinces, they are too weak to make any effectual efforts against me and 
you do not want any diversion in your favour I can therefore very well 
spare him 1500 men I shall try something certainly towards the close 
of the year not till then at any rate. It may be of use to inform you that 
report says all yields to you. I own to you that the busine/s will 
quickly be over now. S T . W/s move just at this time has been Capital 
Washingtons have been the worst he could take in every respect I 


sincerely give you much joy on your succe/s and am with 
great /incerity. . . . 

Seen through the mask, everything is different. The letter 
now reads: 


W. Howe 

is gone to the 

Cheasapeak bay with 

the greatest part of the 

army. I hear he is now 

landed but am not 

certain, I am 

left to command 

here with a 

too small a force 

to make any effectual 

diversion in your favour 

I shall try something cer 

At any rate. It may be of use 

to you. I own to you I think 

S* W.'s move just at this time 

the worst he could take 

much joy on your succ 

Clinton was clever enough to include a little military in- 
formation (mostly false) in the part of the letter that the enemy 
would understand, in case it was captured. Another such mask, 
with oblong holes to reveal the concealed message, is also 
among the Clinton manuscripts. 

In the desperate week just before Burgoyne's surrender at 
Saratoga, Clinton tried one more expedient. It was important 
that Burgoyne should know that the British forces in New 
York were at last advancing up the Hudson. They were too 
little and too late and too far off to do much good; but, at 
least, they were moving in the right direction. At Verplanck's 
Point a certain Captain Campbell, from Burgoyne's army, re- 
ported to Sir Henry. Campbell had made his way through, 
or around, Gates's army facing Burgoyne at Saratoga, and had 
come secretly through American territory in about a week. 
He bore a letter from Burgoyne, dated August 28, telling of 

Spy Catchers Extraordinary 151 

his predicament and asking whether he ought to advance or 

Sir Henry replied in a dispatch dated from the American 
Fort Montgomery, a little farther up the Hudson, which he 
had just captured. His letter, written on thin silk instead of 
paper, is dated October 8, 1777: 

Nous y voila and nothing now between us but Gates, 
I sincerely hope this little success of ours may facilitate 
your operations. In answer to your letter of the s8th 

Sepr. by C. C I shall only say, I can not presume to 

order or even advice for reasons obvious. I heartily wish 
you success, & that 8cc. 

After this had been concealed in an oval silver ball, about 
the size of a rifle bullet, it was handed to Daniel Taylor, a 
young officer who had been promised promotion if he got 
through alive. The bullet was made of silver, so that the spy 
could swallow it without injury from corrosion. He concealed 
it in his hair, which was easy enough in a day when gentlemen 
wore long hair with large queues. (Both the silver ball and 
the letter are now in the museum at Fort Ticonderoga.) 

Taylor had already made the perilous journey through the 
American lines once at least, leaving Burgoyne above Fort Ed- 
ward in late July, 1777, with a message stating the northern 
army was delayed by bad roads. On his return journey, he 
was foolish enough to carry personal letters from British officers, 
which were in themselves enough to convict him, even if he 
had been able to get rid of the silver bullet. 

Captain Campbell started back to Burgoyne on October sev- 
enth, traveling separately from Taylor, but with the same mes- 
sage. He may have been the courier who is known to have 
reached Burgoyne after negotiations had begun; but, if he got 
through at all, he came too late to prevent the surrender. 

Taylor followed on the evening of the eighth, unaware that 
the Americans were already on the lookout for him. When 
Henry Williams of Peekskill had turned over to the patriots 
the secret British messages he was carrying in July, just about 


the time of Taylor's earlier journey, he had warned of "a 
person who constantly plyes between NYork fe Canada his 
Name Taylor, his dress a blue Camblet Coat with white facings 
& silver Epaulets/' 

Almost as soon as he started, Taylor was captured at New 
Windsor, just below Newburgh, apparently in company with 
a man named Isaac Vanvleek, whom Taylor's captors brought 
in as a spy at the same time. After losing his way, the carrier 
had fallen in with an outpost or patrol from Webb's Connecticut 
Regiment, who happened to be wearing scarlet uniforms taken 
from a captured transport. Since this had been Nathan Hale's 
regiment, the patrol were not inclined to deal gently with the 
enemy's spies. 

Like Andre, Taylor, when he saw the uniform of his own 
army, assumed he was in friendly hands and made remarks 
which his captors thought suspicious. A quick-witted sergeant, 
guessing what his prisoner really was, took him to "General 
Clinton," as the prisoner himself demanded. As Taylor had 
gone only a little way beyond his own lines and knew that 
Sir Henry Clinton was then at Fort Montgomery, ten miles 
down the river, he was not yet alarmed and did not get rid 
of his silver bullet and the letters, while he had a chance. 

Not till he was led before General George Clinton in New 
Windsor, and saw a strange officer in American uniform, did 
the wretched man apprehend his situation. Realizing his peril 
too late, the spy fell into a paroxysm of terror and, crying, 
"I am lost!" swallowed the silver bullet. 

Recovery was easy. Dr. Moses Higby, who had an office near 
headquarters, provided "a very strong emetic, calculated to 
operate either way." Taylor, overpowered and forced to swallow 
it, vomited the bullet, instantly snatched it up, swallowed it 
again, and tried to escape; but, when General Clinton threat- 
ened to hang him and cut it out of his stomach, he consented 
to a second dose. When the hollow silver was opened, Sir Henry 
Clinton's message was revealed. General Clinton ordered both 
men hanged within an hour, then relented whentricked by 
a false story that Captain Campbell had also been captured 
Taylor seemed willing to give information. This, however, did 

Spy Catchers Extraordinary 153 

not permanently save him. He was court-martialed and sen- 
tenced to death, October 14, 1777, and his execution was 
ordered two days later. Vanvleek may have revealed enough 
to save his life. Taylor was allowed to write farewell letters 
to his family, which, after being carefully read to make sure 
they contained no military information, were sent to Sir Henry 
Clinton. A rather heartless American joke went round that 
Taylor had been condemned "out of his own mouth." 

As the Americans moved on up the Hudson, a horseman 
came galloping down, bearing news of Burgoyne's surrender. 
With the troops in hollow square around him, the adjutant 
read out the news and also Sir Henry's now futile letter, taken 
from the silver bullet. 


General Howe's Spies 

UNLIKE THEIR American opponents, the British found the 
groundwork of a good intelligence system ready and waiting 
when the troops began to disembark on Staten Island, at the 
end of June, 1776. Better still, the ideal man for extending 
the British intelligence net in New Jersey, the prominent Tory, 
Cortlandt Skinner, had fled to H.M.S. Duchess of Gordon only 
a little while before; and Beverly Robinson, an equally promi- 
nent New York Torywhose house across the Hudson from 
West Point would one day be occupied by Benedict Arnold 
would soon arrive, to assist with intelligence in New York 

Cortlandt Skinner had long been secretly supplying intelli- 
gence to the British before, detected at last, he had to flee for 
his life. In January, 1776, the patriots captured papers that 
William Franklin Tory governor of New Jersey, Benjamin 
Franklin's illegitimate son was sending to London. These in- 
cluded secret records of the Continental Congress, some of 
which were in Skinner's easily recognized handwriting; for the 
New Jersey governor, distrusting his own secretary, had asked 
Skinner to help copy the documents. To make matters worse, 
the captured papers included a confidential letter from Skinner 


General Howe's Spies 155 

to his brother in London, which did not mince words about 
the rebel Congress. 

After one look at these papers, the patriots ordered Skinner's 
arrest; but the Tory's personal intelligence system was already 
so good that he was on his way to safety aboard Duchess of 
Gordon, the day after the incriminating papers had been inter- 
cepted. Skinner probably received several warnings; but one 
of them certainly came from the Tory, Samuel Hake, a Man- 
hattan importer who, while visiting New Jersey, "heard of 
some Dispatches being stopped," and hastily informed Franklin, 
who swiftly passed word to Skinner. It has been suspected that 
Skinner also had rebel friends who, patriots though they were, 
strained their consciences a little to save him. Hake himself, 
rashly going on to Newark, was arrested for aiding the Tory's 
escape, was tried, and was miraculously (and quite wrongly) 

General Howe promptly made the fugitive Skinner a colonel 
and then a brigadier general, with headquarters on Staten 
Island, conveniently close to the Jersey coast, "in order that 
he might keep up the Correspondence he had formerly es- 
tablished in Jersey, and furnish the Command 1 in Chief from 
time to time with Intelligence." 

When Cornwallis was advancing through the Jerseys, as he 
himself later testified, Skinner was with the troops and "he 
had from him once a week a perfect Ace* of the real State of 
Washington's Army/' Skinner himself remarked that "there 
was scarcely any Material Information of the Encampment of 
the Rebel Army which he did not obtain the first Intelligence 
of." Though this far from modest claim was not strictly ac- 
curatesince British intelligence went badly awry at Trenton 
and at Princeton General Washington more or less agreed 
with it. "General Howe has every Species of Intelligence he 
can wish for," he wrote, only a few weeks later. 

It is a curious fact that neither Colonel Elias Dayton's Amer- 
ican spies (passing military intelligence about the British from 
Staten Island to New Jersey) nor Skinner's British spies (passing 
military intelligence about the Americans from New Jersey to 
Staten Island) ever discovered each other. 


Though Skinner's family were arrested, they soon cleared 
themselves, after which Mrs. Skinner began secret correspond- 
ence with her husband, through two of his as yet undiscovered 
secret agents, George Derbage, the king's deputy Surveyor for 
North America, and his American wife for the Derbages also 
made espionage a family business. Mrs. Derbage was "a very 
confidential person & used to carry Letters from M rs Skinner 
to Gen 1 Skinner/' being looked upon, says an appreciative Tory, 
as "an active woman/ 5 who, since she had an equally active 
spouse, caused much difficulty for New Jersey patriots. 

The Derbages were not caught until May, 1 776, when Colonel 
Benjamin Tupper, aboard the American sloop Hester, laid 
hands on the husband and presently collected Mrs. Derbage 
as well. Tupper, who soon found he had caught something a 
great deal worse than a Tartar, was completely baffled by the 
spirited Tory matron, against whom he could prove nothing 
whatever, no matter how much he suspected. Mrs. Derbage 
refused to answer his questions; she refused to answer questions 
by the local committee; and she defiantly added that she would 
not answer questions by General Washington, either. "It is 
my opinion/' sputtered Colonel Tupper, indignantly, "a little 
smell of the black-hole will set her tongue at liberty. It is the 
opinion of our friends in this town that she is able to bring 
out a number of rascals and villains in sundry towns nigh here/' 

Since the American Army often went hungry, Colonel Tup- 
per may have resented the fact that the defiant lady had ac- 
companied John Hartwick, a suspected Tory of Brunswick, 
aboard a British man-o'-war with a supply of hams and fresh 
meat. Worse still, the colonel could get no information against 
another Tory, one Thomas Stevens, "unless the lady's tongue 
should be set at liberty/' Stevens was "a late collector," and 
the chance to hang a tax collector was something no sterling 
patriot cared to miss. Colonel Tupper appears to have come 
off a bad second best. There is nothing to suggest that he ever 
got any information at all from the spirited Tory lady he had 

When it finally appeared that nothing could be proved against 
Mrs. Derbage, she and Mrs. Skinner were ordered "into the 

General Howe's Spies 157 

country at a Distance from the Enemy," and her husband, too, 
was presently freed. 

By that time, Howe's intelligence service had its tentacles 
throughout New Jersey. William Luce, a British spy in Bergen, 
probably one of Skinner's men, was able on July 27, 1777, to 
give warning of the American Army's intended march to Phil- 
adelphia, though General Washington did not issue the order 
until four days later. 

When, in November, 1777, General Philemon Dickinson, 
of the New Jersey Militia, attempted an attack on Staten Is- 
land, Skinner's intelligence was so swift and accurate that the 
attack was blocked before it had well started. To preserve 
absolute secrecy, Dickinson had concealed his intentions from 
his own officers, until the night the troops were to move. 
Nevertheless, by three o'clock next morning, Skinner knew 
all about it, and his men were manning their fortifications. 
Dickinson gave up. 

Nearly three years later, General William Irvine and Lord 
Stirling found Skinner as well informed as ever. Their re- 
connoissance in force had been ordered by General Washing- 
ton on January 10, 1780. The troops began to move January 
14. On January 15, Stirling found Skinner fully prepared and 
waiting for him. The British had known of the attack so far 
in advance that they had had time to cut the ice in New York 
harbor- which had frozen during that exceptionally severe win- 
terand had commenced sending boatloads of reinforcements 
to Staten Island. 

Early in 1777, the most redoubtable of Cortlandt Skinner's 
secret agents joined Howe's forces. This was James Moody, 
an ardent king's man, who had begun to find his farm in Sussex 
County, New Jersey, a dangerous place to live. In April, taking 
more than seventy Tory recruits along, Moody fought his way 
to Bergen, New Jersey, where, with most of his men, he joined 
Barton's Battalion of Skinner's Brigade. Service under Skinner 
naturally led to secret recruiting in New Jersey and so to es- 
pionage. By June, 1777, Moody had recruited and organized 
a secret force of five hundred Jersey Tories, ready to rise when- 
ever the British Army moved forward toward Philadelphia 


a scheme that failed only because, in the end, Howe decided 
to go by sea. 

Moody's first specific mission in military intelligence, as 
distinguished from illegal recruiting, was assigned him in May, 
1778, just as General Howe was giving up the command to 
Sir Henry Clinton, for whom Moody, in the next few years, 
was to carry out one daring feat in espionage after another. 
This first of many missions was a journey to "interior parts 
of the rebel country/' to get information from Colonel John 
Butler, the frontier Tory leader commanding Butler's Rangers, 
whom Clinton supposed to be at Fort Niagara. Moody left 
New York May 18, 1778, with four companions and, after a 
secret visit of one day to his own home, spent the summer 
lurking in rebel territory, sending back information from time 
to time and returning only in mid-September. 

He managed to establish direct contact with Butler, by send- 
ing a "trusty loyalist," who met the rangers and Indians "be- 
tween Niagara and Wyoming/ 7 on their way to the Wyoming 
Massacre; stayed with them until the capture of Forty Fort, 
near modern Wilkes-Barre; then returned with the news. It 
was clearly this subagent of Moody's who sent in a long report 
on the Wyoming Massacre still extant in the Clinton papers. 
The British agent had seen it all (July 3/4, 1778) yet was able 
to get the information from the wild and distant Pennsylvania 
frontier to New York City by July 28. On September 13, when 
Moody at last returned, there also arrived probably in his 
party one Thomas Anderson, who had left Butler four days 
after the Massacre, and who, of course, brought more news. 

British intelligence, active in Philadelphia from the begin- 
ning of the war, was expanded greatly after General Howe 
occupied the city. The Pennsylvania Tory, Joseph Galloway, 
while still a supposedly patriotic member of the Continental 
Congress, had, like Skinner, begun supplying the British with 
intelligence, which passed through William Franklin, to Lon- 
don. The two spies who independently provided the British 
with plans of the chevaux de frise defending Philadelphia, one 
in March, the other probably in May, 1776, may have been 
Galloway and Samuel Wallis the latter a Quaker businessman, 

General Howe's Spies 159 

described as a "Gentleman of Credit in Philadelphia/* soon 
to be more deeply involved in the intrigues of the intelligence 

When some suspicious patriot at length sent Galloway a 
hangman's noose as an anonymous gift, the traitor took the 
hint and fled to British headquarters, where he advised Howe 
on "the Strength and Nature of the Country." He secured 
military maps of Pennsylvania and, before the Brandywine, 
collected intelligence to which he himself attributed the victory. 

When the British entered Philadelphia, Galloway became 
''Superintendent General of Police" and a very active spy mas- 
ter. After the Revolution he boasted that he had "sent out 
upwards of 80 Spies," had planned a mass kidnaping of the 
whole Continental Congress (Sir William Howe thought it a 
madcap scheme), and had tried to capture Governor William 
Livingston and all New Jersey magistrates. Though these am- 
bitious projects failed, Galloway was able to get inside informa- 
tion of what the Continental Congress was doing in 1777 
and 1778, besides reporting to General Howe on American 
recruiting, strength, troop positions and hospitals. 

Well acquainted with Philadelphia and its vicinity, Galloway 
advised Admiral Lord Howe on the navigation of the Delaware 
and secured for Sir William Howe detailed information on 
Valley Forge. He may have had something to do with the map 
of Washington's camp there, which is attributed to a mysterious 
"Mr. Parker." 

It was no fault of Galloway's that two spies one probably, 
the other certainly, part of his net were caught and hanged 
in June, 1778, just before the enemy evacuated Philadelphia, 
when they needed intelligence most. Both were Pennsylvanians, 
who knew the country Thomas Church, former ensign in the 
2nd Pennsylvania; Thomas Shanks, formerly an officer in the 
loth Pennsylvania. Church was hanged on the grand parade 
June 4. Thomas Shanks was caught at about the same time, 
with Galloway's pass in his possession. Shanks had had the 
misfortune to be passed through a British guardhouse, as a 
spy, on the very night when Sergeant William Sutherland, 
of the 45th Foot, was deserting from it. When he reached the 


Americans, Sutherland at once warned them that Shanks was 
on his way to Valley Forge. Washington paid Sutherland 60 
on June 3, "for his discovering Shanks a spy send by the Enemy." 

Before Sutherland received his blood money, Shanks went 
before a board of general officers, who promptly sentenced him 
to "Death by the Cord." Shanks was no model of the self- 
sacrificing and heroic secret agent, for he had lost his American 
commission on charge of stealing shoes; but it was ironic that 
Major General Benedict Arnold sat on the board that sent him 
to the gallows. 

Galloway tended to exaggerate the importance of his intelli- 
gence service. When the war was over and the Tory wanted 
compensation for his losses, Sir William Howe testified that, 
though the man had indeed procured information, it was "not 
very material/ 7 He pooh-poohed Galloway's claim that his in- 
telligence had made possible the British victory at the Brandy- 
wine; and further, said Sir William, after he had tested 
Galloway as an intelligence agent, he decided the man was 
not very competent; and, "soon after altering his Opinion of 
him he removed him." 

Another Philadelphia spy, perhaps part of the same system, 
was Judge John Potts, who fled when the Americans occupied 
the city, but returned when the British drove them out. A 
British intelligence officer described him as "one of the most 
confidential Men Sir W m Howe employed," giving information 
so important that "several Movements of the Army were made 
in Consequence thereof," though there is no indication which 
movements these were. The judge was given a single payment 
of $948.98 in secret service money, much more than spies usually 

When the British withdrew, Potts went along to New York 
to continue espionage from there, being specially successful in 
secret communication with his native Philadelphia. Other re- 
cipients of secret service money in Philadelphia were Thomas 
Robinson, a Delaware refugee ($628.32); and Peter Dubois, a 
New York refugee ($428.18). 

There was also the turncoat, Thomas Badge, "Soap boiler 
& Tallow Chandler" in Philadelphia, who, after serving in 

General Howe's Spies 161 

the American Army, went to New York in 1777, to give in- 
telligence of its movements. He was able to enter American 
territory to buy tallow and, on these journeys, "took great pains 
to acquire information for the British Army/' thus becoming 
"a person to be employ'd on any confidential Service/' He 
was one of Howe's guides on the march from Head of Elk 
toward the Brandywine and later to Philadelphia. 

The one great success of British intelligence in Connecticut 
during this period was the espionage that cleared the way for 
Governor Tryon's raid on Danbury. Early in 1777, Colonel 
Guy Johnson, Tory leader in upper New York, sent out an 
agent to "ascertain the state of the rebel garrisons/' Moving 
about "under an assumed character/' this spy examined all 
posts between Ticonderoga and Albany, then swung far enough 
south for a secret visit to Danbury, where he found "a large 
magazine of military stores and provisions" news of which 
Johnson promptly sent on to Howe. This information led to 
Tryon's raid, April 26, 1777, though there was probably Dan- 
bury espionage as well, since four young Tories were waiting 
to assist the local guide the British brought with them. 

It is possible the Danbury raid was also assisted by Zechariah 
Hawkins, innkeeper of Derby, Connecticut, who had been 
planning other raids on American stores at Derby and New 
Haven. These were to be carried out by troops in green uni- 
formswho were to pass for Russians! This was doubtless an 
effort to confuse the Americans. Some Tory troops wore green 
uniforms, and the Americans knew that the British had been 
trying to hire Russian as well as German mercenaries. Hawkins 
was forced to confess six days after the Danbury raid. 

Otherwise, Howe's espionage in Connecticut was a chapter of 
disasters. One of the victims was Moses Dunbar, a Connecticut 
Tory, who, after accepting a captain's commission in British 
loyalist forces, returned to his native state to recruit. Having 
apparently begun espionage late in 1776, he was caught, was 
tried at Hartford in January, 1777, and sentenced to be hanged 
March 19. By opening his irons with a knife, secretly supplied 
by a friend, and knocking down his guard, Dunbar escaped; but 


he was recaptured and duly hanged on the scheduled date, on 
what is now the campus of Trinity College. 

The local minister was indignant because the condemned 
man declined to attend a special sermon upon his own execu- 
tion; but Dunbar could not escape another sermon, on the 
same dismal subject, delivered in the jail, where he could not 
choose but hear. Legend says that his bride went with him to 
the gallows; and that, just after the trap had been sprung, a 
white deer leaped out of the woods and ran beneath his swinging 

Another of Howe's spies, Robert Thomson, of Newtown, 
Connecticut, was caught after he had visited New York and re- 
turned to recruit Tories for the British. A court-martial in 
Danbury convicted him April 21, 1777, and he was sent back 
to his home for execution, doubtless to discourage any remain- 
ing Tories there, who might try the same thing. He was hanged 
June 9, with his own family among the spectators, ready to 
claim the body after it had dangled the required hour. 

There must have been other and luckier British spies, who 
did their work, undiscovered, and survived; but the records now 
available show only one such man in Connecticut. This was 
John Lyon, who enlisted in Rogers's Rangers in May, 1776, and 
managed to find twenty-two recruits in Fairfield County, Con- 
necticut, under the very noses of the Yankee patriots. 

After Howe set off for Philadelphia, British intelligence work 
in New York was in Sir Henry Clinton's hands and the records 
survive among his papers. 

No amount of American counterintelligence could catch all 
the British agents, especially when Burgoyne's advance made it 
absolutely necessary to have both spies and secret couriers along 
the Hudson. When Burgoyne entered Vermont, he had the 
help of a local spy named Blackman Browning, who lived some- 
where near Cambridge, New York, close to the Vermont border. 
Major Philip Skene sent him to spy on the forces General John 
Stark was raising to the eastward, on Burgoyne's left flank. 
Browning risked his neck for only $20; but the risk may not 
have been very great, for not until September 22, 1779, did the 

General Howe's Spies 163 

Americans find out what he had done; and, even then, there is 
nothing to show they ever caught him. 

There were probably a good many others who, like William 
Rose, Sr., of Saratoga, continued espionage in perfect safety for 
years. Rose had been captured with Burgoyne's troops, but was, 
in some way, able to settle down in New York state. From that 
time until 1780, he later remarked, he "keep'd up Correspond: 06 
with Scouts from Canada and furnished them with provisions 
and all the intelligence in my power." In 1780 he fled to join 
the British openly and, when the war ended, settled in Canada 
with other Tories. 

Daring couriers were always able to keep up secret communi- 
cation between Clinton, in New York, and Burgoyne, advancing 
from Canada; and there was some highly efficient espionage. In 
August, 1777, a British corporal, after a week's examination of 
the American Forts Montgomery and Constitution, below West 
Point, brought back a full report, without being discovered. 

When the British attacked these forts in October, 1777, to 
assist Burgoyne, they knew exactly what they would find and 
had a meticulously detailed geographical report, giving full 
information on roads, distances, terrain and streams near Spuy- 
ten Duyvil, Teller's Point and Verplanck's Point, where they 
meant to operate. This was almost certainly the handiwork of 
the Tory, Beverly Robinson, later involved in the Arnold trea- 
son, who had known this country all his life. In the last few 
hours before surrender, Burgoyne managed to dispatch Joseph 
Bettys, courier and spy, to carry the news to Clinton. 

British espionage in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, collected 
a list of American naval vessels there in May, 1777, including 
the armament and captain of each. It also sent a list of airiving 
French volunteer officers, together with the names, armament, 
captains and ports of departure of the French ships that brought 
them. Some of this information probably came from France, 
where Lord Stormont had an active spy system. 

So complete was the intelligence these agents supplied that 
British headquarters knew the exact cargo of the French ship, 
Amphitrite, which brought the Continental Army twelve thou- 
sand pounds of artillery powder, twenty or twenty-six field guns, 


six thousand muskets, and other military supplies, in May, 1777. 
The British spies even knew that the captain had "blacked & 
disguised" his ship, as soon as she left harbor. British spies in 
France had been watching Amphitrite from January until the 
day she sailed. 

Under General Howe, British intelligence had swiftly ex- 
panded from the modest beginnings made by Gage. It was to 
become vastly more extensive when Sir Henry Clinton took over 
the supreme command, with Major John Andre, able, indus- 
trious, ambitious, and much better educated than his brother 
officers, as an active spy master. 


* * * 

The First Real Intelligence Nets 

As THE AMERICAN ARMY driven out of New York City, then, 
out of the state, then forced to fall back with dwindling forces 
across New Jersey finally approached safety beyond the Dela- 
ware River in Pennsylvania, General Washington at last began 
to establish a series of intelligence nets that would assure him a 
steady flow of information, no matter how far he had to retreat. 
By November, 1776, General Mercer, who had failed to get an 
agent to Staten Island in July, was able to send into New York 
City itself a skilled but unknown observer, who came back with 
a full report of British intentions, troop movements, losses and 
reinforcements. When the Americans were forced beyond New 
Brunswick, in the first day or two of December, one more dar- 
ing agent quietly dropped off, in preparation for eighteen 
months of undetected espionage; and others soon began work. 
The new intelligence system was first set up in New Jersey, 
where the immediate need was greatest; then around New York 
and Philadelphia, where there was certain to be fighting sooner 
or later; and last of all, after many months, in the Iroquois 
country, in wild western New York, though this final step was 
not taken until 1779. 



When the beaten American Army was at last temporarily safe 
in Pennsylvania, in December, 1776, a screen of secret agents 
at once spread out in New Jersey, far beyond its front. Two of 
these men, Joshua and John Mersereau, always believed they 
saved the weakened Continental Army from complete destruc- 
tion by finding and removing boats sunk in the Delaware, which 
local Tories meant to raise, so that the British could cross in 
pursuit. One spy and probably more had been dropped off 
before the Continental Army reached Pennsylvania. Soon Gen- 
eral Washington had agents wandering through the Jersey 
camps of the British Generals Leslie and Howard, and the Ger- 
man Colonels von Donop and Rail. Patriot horsemen, disguised 
as ordinary country folk, rode through New Jersey as they 
pleased. They "talked Tory," loudly. Some of them peddled 
tobacco, for which the German troops were always eager. Un- 
like Hale, they carried no incriminating documents. Probably 
most of them were not soldiers at all, but exactly what they 
seemed to be ordinary farm people who had volunteered for 
the emergency. Their missions were so perfectly concealed that 
the identities of most are unknown to this day. Of them all, the 
British detected only one Abraham Patten, caught and hanged 
in New York, probably in June, 1777. 

The first clear demonstration of how much American intelli- 
gence was improving was the capture of Trenton, Twelve days 
before the victory, Washington ordered all generals to look for 
"some Person who can be engaged to cross the River as a spy/* 
Fearing the British meant to cross the Delaware themselves, he 
wanted to know whether they were building boats, collecting 
horses or bringing up more troops. "Expense must not be 
spared in procuring such Intelligence/' 

General Washington wanted to "get some person in to Tren- 
ton"; but the town was particularly dangerous, being filled with 
Tories who would be quick to recognize, and eager to betray, 
American agents. There was, for instance, the Tory, Jesse Wall, 
who had a courier "conveying Letters &c for the use of the 
Regular Army," from Trenton. It is said that some secret agents 
flatly refused to enter the town at all, though on December 10, 

The First Real Intelligence Nets 167 

1776, the general had been able to send one man In to see 
whether the enemy was beginning to build boats. 

Nevertheless, no matter what the danger, another agent 
would have to go in and observe; and General Washington soon 
found the right man. It is a British historian who declares that 
one conversation between the American commander and the 
courageous New Jersey weaver and butcher, John Honeyman, 
of Griggstown, New Jersey, made possible the victory. 

Accepting the ignominious position of a pretended Tory 
probably about the middle of December the devoted Honey- 
man "fled" from his home in Griggstown and was appropriately 
denounced as a traitor. Orders went out for his arrest on sight. 
Onlyon this point General Washington was very definite the 
general wanted the rogue brought in alive. This particular 
traitor so people were allowed to understand was one whom 
the general especially wanted the pleasure of hanging. 

Soon Honeyman was moving in and out of Trenton and 
through the whole countryside, ostensibly with no thought ex- 
cept business, but in fact quietly watching Colonel Rail's Hes- 
sian troops watching them almost up to the moment when the 
first columns of the Continental Army emerged from the gray 
dawn of the day after Christmas, 1776. 

General Washington's deception, meant to protect Honey- 
man, was a little too complete. A mob of superpatriots, taking 
his carefully spread rumors at their face value, soon raided 
Honeyman's home in Griggstown, where the supposed traitor 
had left his family. The mob was led by a hot-headed youth of 
eighteen, named Abraham Baird, from whom a later writer 
heard the story. When the raiders had searched the house for 
Honeyman in vain, and it was apparent that she had to do some- 
thing, Mrs. Honeyman brought out a paper, signed by the com- 

It is hereby ordered that the wife and children of John 
Honeyman, of Griggstown, the notorious Tory, now 
within the British lines, and probably acting the part of a 
spy [General Washington must have chuckled as he wrote 
that!], shall be and hereby are protected from all harm and 
annoyance from any quarter until further orders. 


But the general had added one more line: 

This furnishes no protection to Honeyman himself. 

Since it takes a soldier's eye to observe a military installation, 
John Honeyman was an almost ideal man for his mission. He 
had served in the French and Indian War, had been in Wolfe's 
bodyguard at Quebec, had seen him fall, and had been one of 
the men who carried him off the field' ' walking most of the 
way in blood," the old soldier liked to say. As a British veteran 
with a fine record, his interest in the Trenton garrison would 
seem natural, and he would be above suspicion. 

The spy and General Washington had been casual acquaint- 
ances for some time, having probably first met in Philadelphia, 
about the time the future commander-in-chief was attending 
the Continental Congress. They had met again as the Conti- 
nental Army was beginning its retreat across New Jersey. 

When he agreed to serve as a spy, Honeyman was told to leave 
his family and go over to the British, posing as a butcher and 
horse trader. In such a role, it would be natural for him to 
wander about the countryside from farm to farm, looking for 
cattle to slaughter and horses to trade. The Hessians in Tren- 
ton would be buying beef, and any officer, British or German, 
liked to talk with a horse trader. 

The general would offer a reward for his capture and (this 
was important to both of them) the reward was to be for his 
capture alive. There were further orders that this dangerous 
man, if captured, was to be brought at once to the commander- 
in-chief in person. Perhaps the two overdid it, just a little; but 
Honeyman, unsuspected by the enemy, placidly continued the 
joint trades of cattle dealing, horse trading, butchering and 
espionage, until he could no longer be useful to the Continental 

When the time was ripe, Honeyman was to venture a little 
too far into the country in search of cattle, make certain the 
Americans captured himand leave the rest to the general. 
Honeyman was able to study the British camps at both New 
Brunswick and Trenton, noting the lax discipline and inade- 
quate defenses at Trenton, a small country village, where it was 

The First Real Intelligence Nets 169 

easy enough for the old soldier to learn all about Rail's troop 
dispositions, artillery positions and outguards. As late as De- 
cember 22, 1776, he was still accompanying the enemy in pur- 
suit of wandering detachments of American troops. Apparently 
he knew all about Washington's planned attack on Trenton; 
for he set off toward the Delaware River to report at exactly the 
right time. 

Presently, as he wandered along through the chill New Jersey 
countryside, looking for a chance to be captured, he noted two 
American scouts, not very well concealed by bushes. To keep 
up his pose as a butcher, he appropriated a cow from the nearest 
pasture and drove her noisily toward the ambush, with a mighty 
cracking of his whip and a good deal of shouting. The scouts 
emerged. The "Tory" left his cow and fled, slipped craftily on 
some convenient ice, fought vigorously for freedom, yielded 
only with pistols at his head. 

The scouts marched their prisoner in triumph to their gen- 
eral. Washington looked grave. He ordered the room cleared, 
while he, alone, interviewed this sinister character. The man 
was to be shot on sight if he attempted to escape. The general 
and the spy were alone together for half an hour. Then, about 
sunset, the prisoner was put into a log hut, to await court- 
martial in the morning. 

Strange to say, a fire broke out nearby, almost at once. The 
half -trained sentries quitted their posts to help put it out. 
When they came back, their prisoner was gone no one under- 
stood how he got away, but Honeyman was known to be a 
desperate and crafty fellow. American outposts saw the scoun- 
drel pass the lines and fired, but he escaped. General Washing- 
ton had been outwitted again! 

Within a few hours, Honeyman was eagerly telling the enemy 
commander in Trenton all about his adventures. He had been 
in the American camp and could assure Colonel Rail that "no 
danger was to be apprehended from that quarter for some time 
to come." Having planted all this false information on behalf 
of that gay deceiver, General George Washington, Honeyman 
set off to New Brunswick. As he well knew, the American 
troops would soon be falling in for the Trenton attack, if not 


already on the march. Honeyman wanted to put as much dis- 
tance between himself and Colonel Rail as possible before the 
German officer learned how badly he had been fooled. 

When the march to Trenton began, General Washington 
took further, special precautions. Three volunteers in farmer's 
clothing which made them, technically, spies preceded the 
American column. They knew the country perfectly, since two 
came from Hopewell, New Jersey, and one was a resident of 
Trenton itself. They were to reconnoiter Hessian outposts and 
prevent Tories from carrying warning. There were not enough 
of them General Washington had wanted twelve such men, 
but could not find them so that, in spite of all precautions, one 
Tory did reach the threatened town with warning of the raid. 
But Rail, deep in Christmas festivities, refused to see him, and 
failed to read the note this devoted subject of the king insisted 
on sending in to him by a servant. The paper was still in the 
colonel's pocket, as he lay dying, after the attack. 

The Americans had hardly returned from their victory at 
Trenton, when the new intelligence service again proved its 
value. A few weeks earlier, Washington had written to Colonel 
John Cadwalader to "spare no pains or expence to get Intelli- 
gence of the Enemy's motions and intentions. " The general 
was well aware that spies cost money; and even then, at nearly 
the lowest ebb of the Revolution, he was always able to find 
cash for them. "Any promises made or Sums advanced, shall be 
fully complied with and discharged/' he promised Cadwalader. 
By December 30, he was eagerly asking Robert Morris for "hard 
money," silver if possible, urgently needed "to pay a certain 
set of People who are of particular use to us." Morris sent two 
canvas bags filled with such coin as he could scrape together 
"410 Spanish dollars, two English crowns, 10 shillings sixpence, 
and a French half crown." Seven years later, Washington still 
remembered this money, "the time and circumstances of it be- 
ing too remarkable ever to be forgotten by me." 

Cadwalader went to work so hard that within a few days 
after Trenton he could send the Continental commander a 
sketch map on which, from some unknown spies' reports, he 
had been able to plot all the approaches to Princeton, British 

The First Real Intelligence Nets 171 

artillery locations, British defenses, and the exact spots where 
the redcoats were quartered, as of December 30. He forwarded 
it December 31. When General Washington slipped away from 
the startled Cornwallis and bore down on Princeton, January 3, 
1777, he knew exactly what he would find there. 

As soon as the British had been pushed back in New Jersey 
and the Continental Army was safely settled in Momstown, 
after the Battle of Princeton, a whole new set of intelligence 
snares was laid. The extent of the secret service activity that 
now began is shown by the money spent on it, as recorded in 
General Washington's accounts. Lieutenant Colonel Joseph 
Reed received 1^38 in January, 1777; ^ e Westchester spy 
catcher, Nathaniel Sackett, 1500 to do some spying of his own, 
in February; Major General Adam Stephen, $200 in April; 
Major General Benjamin Lincoln, $450 in May. Other officers 
gathered intelligence without special funds. General Heath, 
ordered to send spies to New York in mid-January, 1777, had a 
regular network established there by April. 

Espionage in New Jersey was in several hands. General Israel 
Putnam was told on January 5, 1777, to keep his spies "Horse- 
men, in the dress of the Country" watching for a British ad- 
vance from New York City. Colonel Elias Boudinot, at Basking 
Ridge, New Jersey, began, duringthe spring, to combine mili- 
tary intelligence with the care of prisoners a combination of 
duties which General Washington thought very effective. 

Not content with this, however, General Washington at about 
the same time got in touch with Nathaniel Sackett, who, with 
Colonel William Duer, had long been active in counterespio- 
nage in Westchester County and who had employed the re- 
doubtable Enoch Crosby in ferreting out Tory agents. On 
February 3, 1777, Sackett visited Continental headquarters, in 
Morristown. Next day Washington formally instructed him to 
secure "the earliest and best Intelligence of the designs of the 
Enemy," promising to pay him $50 a month and to allow him 
$500 to pay his spies and their expenses. 

The new intelligence director soon found his first agent, a 
well-educated surveyor * 'every way calculated for the Business," 
who, on March 7, 1777, was passed through the American lines 


to the "English Neighborhood/' with orders to "hire a room 
in the City and get a license to carry on a secret trade for poltry 
to enable him to convey our intelligence once or twice a week." 
Black-marketing poultry would give an excuse for going back 
and forth between city and country; and, since food was so 
badly needed in New York, the British were not likely to inter- 
fere with anyone who could bring it in. Nothing had been 
heard from him a month later indeed, nothing more has been 
heard from him since, so far as the records go, though there is 
no reason to suppose he was ever captured; and the missing 
reports may be among those Washington destroyed. 

Undiscouraged, Sackett soon found two more volunteers 
"honest, sensible and intriguing" who were willing "to go into 
the Enemy and seat themselves down in their camps/' One of 
these was to be a resident agent at New Brunswick, the other 
at Perth Amboy, both towns being held by the British. One 
man was the father of a colonel in the British service, which 
gave an appearance of Tory sympathies just what the Ameri- 
can intelligence service wanted and he carried letters of recom- 
mendation to two other British officers. At the last moment, 
it was discovered the spy had never had smallpox, and his mis- 
sion had to be delayed till he could be "Enoculated." 

To make this agent's cover still more plausible, he was au- 
thorized to take eight or ten men to the British with him 
perhaps only posing as refugees or deserters, but quite possibly 
the real thing. When the spy, now proof against smallpox, was 
ready for his mission, he went to some "Principal Torys near 
the enemies Linesin order to get Letters of Recommendation 
to some Principle Gentlemen in the enemies service." 

Although nothing is known of what this man accomplished, 
the care taken with his cover shows how much the American 
intelligence service had learned since Nathan Hale had been 
sent, unprepared, to a useless death. 

Presently the spy master found a genuine Hessian, who had 
lived in America "near 40 years." This thoroughly American- 
ized German immigrant who may have been Christopher Lud- 
wick, the Philadelphia baker was instructed either to enter 
New York City himself or to send "one of that nation that may 

The First Real Intelligence Nets 173 

be relied on." Once safely established, he was to secure military 
information, encourage desertion, and "make use of the De- 
serters as pipes to convey Intelligence." 

Still the indefatigable head of the new network was unsatis- 
fied; but at the end of March, 1777, he found exactly the agent 
he wanted, "a womanthe wife of a man gone over to the 
enemy/' Better still, she really had suffered at the hands of the 
Americans, who had seized her grain. If suspicious British offi- 
cers investigated, they would soon find this part of her story 
was absolutely true. She was told to go into New York and 
complain to General Howe, meantime making such observa- 
tions of his army as she could. Whatever she may have suffered 
at American hands, this woman made an effective patriot spy. 
She left New York on March twenty-eighth and was soon re- 
porting to Sackett: The British were building a large number 
of flat-bottomed boats, which they meant to use in an expedition 
against Philadelphia "to subdue that city." 

Rarely has a single spy's report had such far-reaching results, 
as can be seen from a significant series of dates. She must have 
reported to Sackett in the first few days of April. On April 7, 
Sackett sent her intelligence on to Washington. On April 10, 
Washington hurried General Thomas Mifflin, a former Quaker, 
off to Philadelphia to set up a spy system. On July 23, Howe 
sailed from New York. When, on September 26, he occupied 
Philadelphia at last the American secret service was all ready 
and waiting for him. A few days later, the spies' reports began 
to pour in on Major John Clark, who had by this time taken 
over Miffiin's Philadelphia network; and they kept coming 
steadily at critical moments, several times a day until Sir 
Henry Clinton evacuated the city. It all went back to what one 
courageous woman had learned in a single swift visit to New 
York, several months before. 

At this point, strange to say, Sackett's espionage network 
disappears from the records completely. Though this may mean 
only that the documents have been destroyed, more probably 
it means that Sackett's group was merged in one of the other 
New York networks which were being swiftly created. 

American secret agents were never very successful in New 


Brunswick. About the middle of January, 1777, General Wash- 
ington himself sent an agent there, who was soon followed by 
Sackett's man. One of these spies is probably identical with the 
supposed "Pennsylvania provision merchant," who was caught 
by the enemy in early June, 1777. The Hessians who had al- 
ready hanged one American spy before leaving England have 
left the only record of this incident. The supposed provision 
merchant made a practice of persuading soldiers to desert and 
sending his messages back to Washington in their hands. His 
method worked successfully until he offered a grenadier 50 
to desert and carry a letter, giving the "whole position" of the 
camp at New Brunswick, locating pickets and sentries, and 
offering to set fire to the enemy's magazine, if the Americans 
attacked. The grenadier reported everything to General Leslie, 
who arrested the American spy at once, only to find that he 
had already "sent off several deserters in this manner." There 
is no record of the spy's execution. 

New Brunswick was, nevertheless, the place where two of the 
most impudent and successful of American exploits in espionage 
originated, one by Lieutenant Lewis J. Costigin, who in civil 
life was a New Brunswick merchant, the other by the younger 
John Mersereau, with the help of various relatives. 

Costigin was originally sent out for intelligence by Wash- 
ington himself, when, just after the Battle of Trenton, the 
Americans realized that Cornwallis was approaching from New 
Brunswick. Cornwallis could, perhaps, be dealt with; but what 
forces were behind him? Colonel Matthias Ogden, command- 
ing the ist New Jersey, was told to select a "suitable person" to 
enter the town, ascertain the strength of the British, and see 
how big their baggage train was (which might be a clue to 
either enemy strength or enemy intentions). Ogden asked 
Gostigin, one of his own officers, to volunteer, because he came 
from New Brunswick and his family was still living there. 

Instructed by General Washington in person, the lieutenant 
went straight into New Brunswick, or near enough to procure 
"all the information in his power respecting the strenth of the 
enemy." Unfortunately, British cavalry captured him on the 
way back, January i, 1777. Though Costigin may have entered 

The First Real Intelligence Nets 175 

New" Brunswick in disguise, he was certainly in uniform again 
when the British caught him, for they treated him as an ordi- 
nary prisoner of war and sent him back to New York, where 
he was set free on a parole that lasted for nearly two years. 

Parole released an officer from confinement and allowed him 
to move about freely, within limits set by his captors, after he 
had given his word of honor (parole) not to escape. Usually he 
was also pledged not to communicate intelligence; but either 
the British forgot this formality or Costigin stretched the terms 
of his parole illicitly or (more probably) he began spying after 
he had been exchanged and was released from parole. 

In some way First Lieutenant Costigin had, by August 21, 
1778, made Lieutenant General Washington extremely anxious 
to have him exchanged. On that date, orders went out to get 
the lieutenant back by "the speediest means,'* though not to 
seem so "over anxious* 1 as "to alarm the enemy or induce them 
to detain him." Immediately on release, First Lieutenant Costi- 
gin was to report to the lieutenant general at headquarters. 

So much interest in a subaltern on the part of the com- 
mander-in-chief is just not normal. It is clear that Lieutenant 
Costigin had already managed to get into secret communication 
with American intelligence; that he already possessed secret in- 
formation; and that he had perhaps already sent some in. 
Costigin was exchanged September 18, 1778, and thereby freed 
from the obligations of parole; but he did not return to his 
own army, as an exchanged prisoner is supposed to do. Instead, 
acting on orders from General Stirling and Colonel Matthias 
Ogden (the colonel who had selected Costigin for his original 
espionage mission), the lieutenant simply stayed in New York. 
Either he pretended to have Tory leanings and to be unwilling 
to rejoin the Continental Army or else people in New York 
were so used to seeing him around, as a paroled prisoner, that 
it never occurred to the British staff that Lieutenant Costigin 
ought to be back with his own army. 

Technically, he was hardly a spy. He was in uniform. Every- 
one knew he was an American officer. He was not violating his 
parole, since he had been exchanged. In this ideal situation, 
Lieutenant Costigin went happily to work. So many papers 


have been lost that it is impossible to tell all the lieutenant did; 
but four of his reports, under the signature "Z," remain, the 
first dated November 16, 1777, and the others December 7, 16 
and 19. 

With the eye of an experienced soldier, Lieutenant Costigin 
was able to find out all about the personal movements of Sir 
Henry Clinton, Major General James Grant, Governor Wil- 
liam Tryon, Lord Cathcart and other leading figures; troop 
movements; shipping; the dispatch of an army to Pensacola 
(which Oliver Pollock, commercial and intelligence agent in 
New Orleans, was soon confirming); bread shortage, and sup- 
ply of British rations from Shrewsbury, New Jersey all valua- 
ble information which he could get by putting a little cash 
where it would do the most good, walking about Manhattan 
streets, and chatting with British officers who, during his long 
captivity, had learned to know him. 

The most diverting aspect of this paradoxical situation is that 
the enemy could not legally have hanged him, even if they had 
found out what he was doing, since he was in New York per- 
fectly openly, in uniform, and no longer on parole. If he was 
a little slow about going home well, neither the British nor 
the American command had ordered him to hurry back. 

Costigin himself says that he stayed where he was, "as long as 
he thought it safe," and the records show he rejoined the Con- 
tinental Army on January 17, 1779. 

It looks very much as if nobody told the scrupulous Washing- 
ton just how sharp a game his intelligence men were playing. 
On October 5, 1778, almost three weeks after Costigin had 
been formally exchanged, the general still knew nothing about 
it, in spite of the special interest he had already expressed, and 
was explaining that the lieutenant's "being on parole would 
make it improper to take any steps in the affair, in which he is 
suspected to be concerned" plainly intelligence of some kind. 
In fact, General Washington was puzzled because there had 
been "some mistake in executing" his orders to have the lieu- 
tenant exchanged at once. 

The lieutenant was not on parole. The lieutenant had al- 
ready been exchanged. But nobody told General Washington 

The First Real Intelligence Nets 177 

that. Plainly, again, some senior officer thought it would be 
better if the commander-in-chief did not know quite everything 
his intelligence service was doing. 

Nobody told General Washington, either/ that Lieutenant 
Costigin was identical with that fine spy, "Z." The "Z" reports 
were sent on by Colonel Ogden, through General Stirling, to 
Washington, who thought them very valuable and acknowl- 
edged receipt of one as late as January 2, 1779. Probably Og- 
den and Stirling never did tell their general who "Z" really 
was, for on March 15, 1779, two months after Costigin's return, 
Washington was asking what had become of "Z" and whether 
a new spy was needed to replace him. 

Poor Costigin, meantime, had spent, in gathering intelli- 
gence, "113 of his own money, which he was still trying to col- 
lect three years latera not unusual situation in the intelligence 
service. Washington at last learned the truth, when he received 
Lieutenant Costigin's petition for payment of his expenses; but 
that was not until 1782. 

Quite as daring as Costigin was the younger John Mersereau 
later called John LaGrange Mersereau, to distinguish him 
from his uncle who was planted in New Brunswick to begin 
the work of the Mersereau spy ring, which was eventually 
headed by Colonel Elias Dayton, commanding the ist (Essex 
County) New Jersey Militia. As the British approached New 
Brunswick, Washington asked Joshua Mersereau, a patriotic 
businessman who had fled from Staten Island, to procure intel- 
ligenceprobably because the Mersereaus had already been 
giving some help in securing information before they had to 
quit their home. 

It was agreed that Joshua Mersereau's son, the younger John, 
should remain behind in New Brunswick after the American 
forces were gone, then work his way to Staten Island and Man- 
hattan. The result was eighteen months of highly successful 
espionage by young Mersereau himself and the later develop- 
ment of a large intelligence network by his father, brother, 
uncle, and numerous intrepid assistants. 

At first, young Mersereau remained constantly within the 
British lines on Staten Island, using as a courier another young 


man, John Parker, who had been Joshua Mersereau's appren- 
tice in shipbuilding. After three or more secret trips into 
American territory, Parker was caught at Amboy and thrown 
into a British prison, where he soon died probably of hard- 
ships, though Parker himself thought he was being poisoned. 
Mersereau boldly visited his courier in prison, hoping to supply 
food and clothing; but the dying man refused help: "It was of 
no use, for he should not live long/' When Mersereau came 
back next morning, he found Parker had died during the night. 

After this, Mersereau, forced to assume the risks of a courier 
as well as a spy, began to cross the river on a raft, carrying his 
secret papers in a bottle tied to a "thread." In his own manu- 
script story, he does not explain what the thread was for, but it 
seems evident that he towed the bottle in the river, so that, if 
challenged, he could drop the thread and let the incriminating 
evidence sink. At Shooter's Island, between Staten Island and 
New Jersey, he deposited his papers under a large stone and 
sometimes picked up instructions. Light signals on either side 
of the river showed when papers had been hidden. 

At times, young Mersereau crossed to the New Jersey shore, 
and once, hearing that his father was in Elizabeth, he boldly 
joined him there a piece of rashness that was nearly his undo- 
ing. Finding an old skiff on the grass in an unguarded part of 
Staten Island, he used it to reach New Jersey, went on to Eliza- 
beth, and found dawn breaking before he was ready to start 
back. Lying concealed in an old barn on the New Jersey side 
of the Hudson all day, he started for Staten Island the next 

Meantime, however, someone had noticed the disappearance 
of the skiff, and a sentry was watching the spot When the 
American spy heard his challenge, he says, "I fled on my hands 
fc feet to a ditch, along which I could run without being much 
exposed to his fire." But when a bullet whacked into a post 
just over his head, Mersereau jumped out of the ditch, ran for 
his lodgings, pursued by several men, reached the house, and 
scrambled into his room. His pursuers, bursting in after him, 
met an irate and very drunk British major, also lodging there, 
who threw them out, swearing "there were no rebels in the 

The First Real Intelligence Nets 179 

house where he lodged." In the darkness, no one had recog- 
nized the fugitive. 

After a few such exploits, Mersereau eventually came under 
suspicion, and, realizing this, escaped, rejoined the Americans, 
and assisted in caring for Burgoyne's captured army. He was 
never able to serve with troops in the field, because a defective 
right arm made it impossible for him to hold a musket; but for 
cold courage he was probably unsurpassed in the Revolution. 

It was probably after the younger John Mersereau had been 
forced to give up espionage that his sixteen-year-old brother 
for a time replaced him, going back and forth to Staten Island 
in a skiff (normally kept hidden in the cellar of a relative's 
house), and bringing back files of the Register, desired by Gen- 
eral Washington. These were collected for him by still another 
Mersereau Paul who had contrived to remain unsuspected on 
Staten Island. 

Colonel Dayton now built up his group of agents rapidly, 
though he had to combine intelligence work with the ordinary 
duties of a line officer. By July 5, 1777, General Washington 
was able to tell Congress, "I keep people constantly on Staten 
Island, who give me daily information of the operations of the 
enemy." Five days later, Dayton was reporting to Continental 
headquarters that one of his men had just returned from New 
York, "after spending four days observing the enemy/' 

The network grew so rapidly that on July 26, Washington 
told the colonel to send twenty spies to Staten Island, to ob- 
serve the enemy's troops, positions, guards and strength. 

Colonel Dayton seems to have been the intelligence officer 
who, during the spring or summer of 1777, sent out the broth- 
ers Captain Baker Hendricks and John Hendricks, together 
with John Meeker, one of his own soldiers. At least, it was to 
Dayton they appealed when they got into trouble a few months 
later. These men had General Washington's authority to carry 
"market truck" to the British and bring back "a few Goods/' 
illicitly, "to give the colour of going upon Business of that kind 

To assist this illicit communication with the enemy, General 
Washington issued passes for the group and was soon receiving 


some extremely accurate intelligence. This network remained 
active for the next three years and probably all through the 
Revolution. For some reason, their only surviving reports are 
all dated 1780, though John Vanderhovan, one of the ablest of 
these spies, specifically says he began intelligence in 1777, like 
the Hendricks brothers. As payments to several others begin in 
that year, most members of the Dayton-Mersereau-Hendricks 
system probably entered the secret service at about the same 

Though he must have transmitted a great deal more intelli- 
gence, the elder John Mersereau's surviving reports run only 
from May to September, 1780. No actual reports by the Hen- 
dricks brothers are extant, though they are frequently men- 
tioned in the transmission of information. Their activity, 
however, is proved by an entry in General Washington's ac- 
counts, which shows him, on October 16, 1780, paying Baker 
Hendricks five guineas, "for Exp? & Rewards of himself & others 
(whom he was obliged to employ) to open, 8c carry on a Cor- 
rispondence with persons within the Enemys line by the way of 
Staten Island." 

John Vanderhovan eventually directed a group of subagents 
who sent their messages in through Captain Baker Hendricks 
or John Mersereau. He may have been the husband of Mrs. 
Elizabeth Vanderhovan, of Bridgetown (Mount Holly, New 
Jersey, not the modern Bridgeton), at whose home Hendricks 
said he picked up many of Vanderhovan's reports though 
there is a strong suspicion that "Mrs. Vanderhovan" was a mere 
pseudonym for one of the male spies. Some of John Vander- 
hovan's messages were transmitted through Cornelius Vander- 
hovan, of Metuchen. 

John Vanderhovan had four known assistants Abraham 
Banker, Banker's brother, and two men referred to as "Bond'* 
or "Jesse." Like the Hendricks brothers, Banker at one time 
came under suspicion of working with the British, When re- 
porting to Washington himself, Vanderhovan usually signed 
his own name. When reporting through "Mrs. Vanderhovan" 
(if she existed) or Hendricks, he signed as "D, LitteL" In the 
autumn of 1780, after three years of perilous service, Vander- 

The First Real Intelligence Nets 181 

hovan refused to send more information until paid. He was, he 
said, in urgent need of money, having spent heavily, "keeping 
the company necessary to obtain the information/* 

This spy also had contact with "A Stranger" and, eventually, 
with Caleb Brewster, whose whaleboats carried reports from 
the Culpers and other spies across Long Island Sound. 

Six agents operated through John Mersereau, the elder: an 
unknown "J-C>" who may have been Tallmadge's spy, John 
Cork, and who is recorded only as having received six guineas; 
Paul Latourette, now only a name; "Amicus Reipublicae" (per- 
haps Abraham Banker); "A Stranger/' still unidentified; 
"J. M.," who may have been John Meeker or any one of three 
Mersereaus who had the same initials; and "A. R.," believed 
to have been Asher Fitz Randolph, who on one occasion re- 
ceived four guineas. Randolph was a militia captain from 
Woodbridge, New Jersey, who saw a good deal of active duty 
with troops but doubled as a secret agent. 

It is probable that the tentacles of one or another of Colonel 
Elias Dayton's intelligence organizations eventually reached 
into the ranks of the British Army itself. A suspicious British 
spy in Elizabeth, New Jersey, about the time of the mutiny of 
the Pennsylvania and New Jersey line, in 1781, noted with 
anxiety that a certain Sergeant Lloyd, coming from the British 
with a flag of truce, was on alarmingly cordial terms with the 
rebels. He brought presents of clothing and other articles from 
New York, was seen in conversation with Colonel Dayton (of 
whose activities the British were probably well aware), and was 
strongly suspected of giving intelligence of the British forces. 
But, though all this was reported to Sir Henry Clinton, nothing 
seems to have happened to the sergeant. 

By midsummer of 1777, General David Forman, of the New 
Jersey Militia, had set up an intelligence service of his own, 
mainly to watch the British fleet, A great deal of his informa- 
tion came through a coast-watching service on the New Jersey 
side, which observed naval movements. But, not content with 
watching from the shore, the general had a group of secret 
agents on Staten Island and probably in New York City, who 


were active throughout the war, though there is no clue to the 
identity of any of these spies. 

From the abundant intelligence provided by his New York 
and New Jersey spies, General Washington believed, early in 
1777, that the British would eventually strike at Philadelphia, 
though he was never absolutely certain of it till they landed in 
Maryland, August 25. An unlucky British spy, whom the 
Americans caught in Philadelphia and ''exalted upon a Gal- 
lows," as Washington grimly remarked, provided unintentional 
confirmation. He had been trying to secure Delaware River 
pilots. That could only mean General Howe was thinking of 
Philadelphia, especially as other British agents were found 
"measuring" the river. When Howe sailed on July 23, 1777, a 
bold American agent boarded H.M.S. Centurion and watched 
the fleet depart. A report went to Washington next day. 

The American commander had, by this time, fully mastered 
the intricacies of military intelligence. He now intended to 
be fully informed about all the enemy's capabilities, without 
trying to make sure of his exact intentions. Though the main 
intelligence target was still New York, the commander-in-chief 
now realized that he must have his spy rings ready, no matter 
what city the British might occupy. "Where-ever their Army 
lies, it will be of the greatest advantage to us, to have spies 
among them.'* On April 10, 1777, Major General Thomas Mif- 
flin was told to "look out for proper persons for this purpose, 
who are to remain among them under the mask of Friendship." 
They would be needed if the enemy moved to Pennsylvania. 
These agents were to be spotted in Philadelphia itself and in 
the country around it. No more untrained amateurs were to 
be used. "Give the persons you pitch upon, proper lessons," 
the commander told Mifflin. 

General Washington thought "Some in the Quaker line, who 
have never taken an active part, would be least liable to sus- 
picion." It was a good idea, except that the British had it, too. 
The schoolmaster, Thomas Long inelegantly known in Rah- 
way, New Jersey, as "Bunk Eye," from his too prominent eyes 
was sent to Philadelphia toward the end of April, 1777, as an 
American spy, because he habitually associated with Quakers. 

The First Real Intelligence Nets 183 

Two days later it turned out the man had Tory sympathies and 
might already be spying for the British. General Washington 
had to send hasty orders for his arrest. 

Just what General Mifflin did to honeycomb southeastern 
Pennsylvania with spies, no one knows. By June, 1777, the 
brilliant Major John Clark was active in intelligence duties, 
almost certainly assisting Mifflin to prepare the network which 
Clark himself would soon take over, as the shining star of the 
Continental Army's intelligence service. Only one thing is 
wholly clear: when General Howe and his redcoats arrived in 
Philadelphia, a large, well-trained, active and perfectly con- 
cealed group of secret agents, headed by Major Clark, was wait- 
ing for them. 

The Cherry Tree Hero Tells 
Some Jhoppers 

DURING THIS PERIOD, when at last he had an organized military 
intelligence service with a widespread espionage network, 
George Washington, who proverbially "could not tell a lie/' 
began to reveal an unexpected talent for ingenious and elab- 
orate deceit. The commander-in-chief seems suddenly to have 
realized that, if his secret agents could get accurate informa- 
tion from the British, they could also feed the enemy some 
remarkably inaccurate information cooked up by various far- 
from-truthful American officers, among whom the most ingen- 
ious in the art of prevarication was the general himself. George 
Washington began to lie oh, how he lied! but only for his 
country's sake. 

Opportunity for the first in a long series of spectacular ex- 
ploits in misinforming the enemy came not long after the 
Battle of Princeton, when the victorious but sadly depleted 
American Army went into winter quarters at Morristown. 
Though the episode cannot be exactly dated, it is certain that 
it took place at Morristown, early in 1777, at a time when 
American strength had sunk to one of its lowest points. Wash- 


The Cherry Tree Hero Tells Some Whoppers 185 

ington himself thought his army "only about Four Thousand 
strong/* on February 20; and his first successful deception must 
have been planned about this time, when it was vital that the 
enemy should not guess how weak the Americans really were, 
especially as Howe had, at Amboy, thirty miles away, a British 
detachment larger than the whole Continental Army. 

Colonel Elias Boudinot, who stage-managed the elaborate 
trick that followed, says the army had sunk to three thousand 
men; and that, to make a show of strength, Washington had 
been forced to distribute his scanty force "by 2 and 3 in a 
House, all along the main Road around Morris Town for 
Miles/' This convinced the country people that the Americans 
were at least forty thousand strong, a most desirable impression, 
since many were Tories, certain to be in touch with the enemy. 
"We are deceiving our Enemies with false Opinions of our 
Numbers/' General Washington wrote exultantly to Congress. 

Presently there appeared in Morristown a New York mer- 
chant, posing as a refugee, with a dismal tale of British mal- 
treatment. The man was, in fact, a British agent, sent to get an 
accurate estimate of American strength, as the Americans at 
once suspected. Though his adjutant general wanted to arrest 
the fellow, General Washington saw in the British secret agent 
a heaven-sent opportunity to plant false information an op- 
portunity which he seized forthwith. The British spy was left 
entirely undisturbed. Meantime, every brigadier at Morris- 
town was ordered to prepare a false "return/' immensely exag- 
gerating the strength of his brigade. The various figures were 
carefully arranged to show a total American strength of twelve 
thousand. If Howe's agent tried to confirm this by chatting 
with civilians or observing the wide distribution of the troops, 
he was certain to get an idea of the strength of the American 
forces as high as this exaggerated figure, or even higher. The 
British general would hardly accept the supposed strength of 
forty thousand assigned the Continental Army by popular ru- 
mor; but that fantastically wrong estimate would help make 
the figure of twelve thousand seem nearly credible. 

All the false reports collected from the mendacious briga- 
diers were carefully placed in pigeonholes in the desk of the 


adjutant general himself, who meantime scraped acquaintance 
with the "merchant," lent a sympathetic ear to his anti-British 
talk, and finally found room for the man to lodge in the same 

Washington arranged that, while the two were at supper to- 
gether, the American should be hastily called away, carelessly 
leaving the "official" papers unguarded. At nine o'clock an 
orderly sergeant burst in, with orders to report to General 
Washington at once; and the adjutant general rushed off, giving 
the spy half an hour a longer period might have aroused suspi- 
cionalone with the strength returns. To the great gratification 
of the American staff, the merchant disappeared next morning. 

Making his way to New York with the planted information, 
the spy was cordially received by the British commander. The 
information that he brought, says Colonel Elias Boudinot, "con- 
vinced Genl Howe that we were too strong to be attacked & 
saved us thro' the Winter." Worse still, the beguiled British 
general got the idea of American strength so fixed in his mind 
that he would not believe the actual facts when an escaping 
British officer prisoner presently brought them to him. 

A British prisoner whom Boudinot describes as "Colonel" 
Luce, captured at Elizabeth, had been brought to Morristown 
and allowed to lodge with a Tory family, moving about freely 
on parole. This was undoubtedly the British intelligence offi- 
cer, William Luce, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, who sometimes 
operated in Bergen, though he was certainly not a colonel and 
probably never achieved a rank higher than captain. Since the 
Americans treated him as an ordinary officer prisoner, even go- 
ing so far as to accept his parole, it is obvious that he had been 
in proper British uniform when captured and was not a spy, at 
least not to begin with. 

Luce improved the opportunity his parole gave him to study 
the situation of the American Army and soon was able to make 
an accurate estimate of its real weakness, since he had "obtained 
full accts of the Army, Artillery, &c., with our Poverty, Sickness 
&c. &c. according to the Truth." When he had secured all this 
vital information, he fled, breaking his parole, to New York, 
where he reported to Howe in person. 

The Cherry Tree Hero Tells Some Whoppers 187 

To his horror, the fugitive was received with complete in- 
credulity. With a flourish, Howe produced General Washing- 
ton's fraudulent returns, "obtained in such a Manner that there 
could be no Doubt." Poor Luce, having already committed a 
grave offense in breaking his parole, found himself accused of 
joining the rebels and trying to deceive the British with false 
information. At first threatening to "hang him up at the first 
Tree," Howe was in the end content to treat the man who had 
brought him the true report, "with contempt & Severity/' Bou- 
dinot avers that the poor wretch "took to drink & killed him- 
self by it in The End," but that is only a rhetorical flourish. 
Luce lived to claim compensation from the British Govern- 
ment, when the war was over; but it is comprehensible that, in 
his description of his military service, he does not mention this 
ignominious failure. 

Another opportunity to deceive the enemy presented itself 
almost at once. Colonel Boudinot had a double agent who 
with General Washington's full approval was already supply- 
ing military intelligence to both sides and would tell the British 
whatever Washington might desire. The commander-in-chief 
thought up a few choice fibs to be carried as genuine informa- 
tion to British intelligence officers and sent them on to Colonel 
Boudinot, in "a sketch of such matters as it will be proper for 
your Spy to report to deceive the Enemy." At the same time he 
suggested that, if Boudinot himself could think up some more 
completely false information for the spy to carry to New York, 
it would be all the better. 

"If he can do us no harm by reporting what is intrusted to 
him you may add what you please, only taking care to keep a 
Copy and send it to me, that if any other person should go in 
upon the same Errand, he may carry the same Tale." It was the 
first time General Washington is known to have deliberately 
planned to use what became his favorite scheme making sure 
his false information should seem to confirm itself by reaching 
the enemy several times from different sources. 

This double sometimes triple deception became character- 
istic of General Washington's methods. If possible, he always 
planted the same false story several times, arranging to have it 


reach the enemy through widely separated sources, apparently 
independent of each other and so apparently confirming each 
other. (Once he tried to have the same story reach Howe's staff 
four times!) 

There were no more efforts to deceive the British or, at least, 
no further efforts are recorded until autumn. By that time, 
both sides had divided their forces. Howe had occupied Phila- 
delphia, September 26, 1777, while Washington's forces, beaten 
at the Brandywine on September 11, beaten again at German- 
town, October 4, hovered some distance outside the city. Mean- 
time, Burgoyne's army from Canada was coming resolutely 
down the Hudson. No one could know, in September, 1777, 
that Burgoyne would be forced to surrender to General Horatio 
Gates in the middle of the next month. Sir Henry Clinton held 
New York, whence he might at any moment advance into Gates's 
rear. Sir William Howe might reinforce Clinton with troops 
from the British garrison of Philadelphia. In that case, Bur- 
goyne and Clinton might crush Gates's army between them. 

Burgoyne's surrender itself was due to an American intelli- 
gence coup by Alexander Bryan, a daring amateur secret agent, 
whose name has been totally unknown from that day to this. 
On September 12, 1777, Gates went into position on Bemis 
Heights; on the thirteenth, Burgoyne's British troops crossed 
the Hudson; on the fifteenth, his Germans followed. About 
this time, Gates asked Bryan, whose home was somewhere near 
the American position, to "go into Burgoyne's Army" and learn 
the "heft" of the artillery, the number of guns and troops, and 
Burgoyne's intentions. When Bryan explained that he had a 
pregnant wife and sick child at home, Gates promised to send 
an army doctor, and Bryan went out on his dangerous mission. 

Going over to the British, Bryan bought a piece of cloth and 
then "went stumbling about to find a tailor." Just how this was 
possible is not explained in the story, as Alexander Bryan later 
told it to his son, Daniel. The spy was evidently looking for an 
excuse to move about among the enemy's troops. He might 
have found a better one; and it all sounds very queer today; but 
then, espionage is often a very queer business. 

Bryan did manage to learn the enemy's strength and also 

The Cherry Tree Hero Tells Some Whoppers 189 

learned that Burgoyne would attack Bemis Heights, which 
Gates's army held. He managed to break away, was suspected 
and pursued, spent an hour concealed in the chill waters of a 
neighboring creek, but reached Gates with the news. According 
to the legend that came down in the Bryan family, Gates acted 
mainly on this information. Troops swarmed out at daybreak 
and the position on Bemis Heights was ready to repulse Bur- 
goyne by ten o'clock. 

Only then did Bryan discover that Gates had not kept his 
promise to send a physician. Hurrying home, he found that his 
invalid son had died, while his wife had suffered a premature 
confinement, from which she, too, nearly died. Suspicious 
neighbors had added to the poor woman's troubles, because 
they thought her husband had gone over to the enemy. Gates 
explained his failure by saying that his own army needed twice 
as many medical officers as he possessed. 

If Bryan's story can be taken literally, he was the most suc- 
cessful spy in history, whose one mission led directly to a vital 
military decision. That is, it can be said that Bryan's warning 
made possible the victory at Bemis Heights. There is no doubt 
that Bemis Heights led to Burgoyne's surrender; that Bur- 
goyne's surrender led to the French government's decision to 
intervene with troops; that the French troops made possible the 
winning of the war. It is true that Gates already knew, through 
ordinary reconnoissance, what Burgoyne was doing. It is also 
true that his fortifications were not so hasty as Bryan's story 
implies. But still, it is possible it is just barely possible that 
Alexander Bryan was the man who really won the American 
Revolution. That even General Washington ever knew his 
name is most improbable. 

However that may be, Burgoyne's surrender confronted Gen- 
eral Washington, far to the south, outside Philadelphia, with 
two problems: He had to frighten Clinton into thinking that 
Gates's troops, released by Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga, 
would immediately attack New York. At the same time, he had 
to persuade Howe that those same troops would concentrate 
against him in Philadelphia. The sad truth was that General 
Gates was now foolishly keeping the army that had beaten Bur- 


goyne Idle along the Hudson, doing practically nothing, so that 
neither Howe nor Clinton was in any real danger. 

The truth, however, was something in which General George 
Washington, at the moment, was not interested. If the right 
kind of false information could be used to delude both Clinton 
and Howe, the situation could be saved. Clinton would stay in 
New York; Howe would stay in Philadelphia; the Continental 
Army would be safe. 

To the complicated series of elaborately arranged falsehoods 
required to keep the two British armies from combining forces, 
General Washington addressed himself with gusto, assisted by 
a competent group of talented and enthusiastic military liars. It 
was another splendid chance for the truthful general to show 
his skill in forging fraudulent intelligence; and, with magnifi- 
cent mendacity, he rose to the occasion. To frighten Clinton, 
the Continental coinmander-in-chief ordered not one, but three, 
American generals to make ostentatious preparations for just 
such an attack on New York as Clinton feared General Phile- 
mon Dickinson in New Jersey, General Horatio Gates on the 
west bank of the Hudson, General Israel Putnam on the east 
bank in Westchester County. It was all made to look like one 
of those converging maneuvers in which eighteenth-century 
generals delighted. There was not really going to be any attack 
on Clinton but Sir Henry had no way of knowing that. 

By this time, American counterintelligence had identified 
some local Tories who were leaking intelligence to the British 
in New York; but it had cannily refrained from arresting them 
and had let them go on sending their reports. They were useful 
now. Dickinson was ordered to make his preparations for an 
attack on Staten Island as noticeable as possible, at the same 
time making sure to assemble a great many small boats, the 
appearance of which always alarmed British intelligence officers. 
Gates was instructed to make similar preparations, as if to 
threaten Manhattan; Putnam, to threaten Long Island. After 
the three generals had done enough to make the supposed attack 
seem convincingly imminent, they were to let the secret become 
known to "persons who you are sure will divulge and dissemi- 
nate it in New York." 

The Cherry Tree Hero Tells Some Whoppers 191 

At the same time, General Washington and Major John 
Clark who had already gained experience in intelligence work 
in the New Jersey campaign began to bamboozle Sir William 
Howe with the same untruthful tales, in as neat a series of pre- 
pared falsehoods as were ever perpetrated. These were care- 
fully planned to make equally plausible, in Philadelphia, the 
alarming but totally false intelligence that Clinton, in New 
York, would receive from New Jersey, New York state and 
Connecticut. Howe would certainly send all such information 
on to New York; that would worry Clinton. Clinton would 
certainly send all his information on to Philadelphia; tkat 
would worry Howe. 

Major Clark's well-organized ring of American spies, who 
were now sending so many accurate reports out of Philadelphia, 
could also be used to send the artistically inaccurate reports to 
Howe's headquarters in the city. Groundwork for these com- 
pletely fraudulent documents was carefully laid. About the end 
of October, 1777, Major Clark sent one of his secret agents- 
traveling with an official pass from Howe himself directly to 
the British commander, with a generous offer from the Ameri- 
can major "to risque my all in procuring him intelligence." 
The offer was perfectly genuine, though Clark failed to add 
that the most important intelligence, including vital "stolen" 
documents, would be specially prepared for Sir William Howe 
by General Washington himself, together with a few ingenious 
contributions by Major Clark. To make the whole thing seem 
plausible, Clark made a mystery of his own identity, posing as 
a Quaker and informing Howe only that "the bearer would 
give him my name/' When the bearer did so, it was the name 
of "a noted Quaker who I knew assisted him." Much amused, 
the American agent who carried this message to the enemy's 
headquarters reported that General Howe smiled approvingly, 
when he saw that "the letter was concealed curiously." 

Rising to the bait, Sir William indicated that he would like 
first-hand, original American documents, stolen from the files 
of the Continental Army. Eager to please the commander of 
the British forces, Clark immediately wrote, asking if General 
Washington would be willing "to make out a state of the army 


and your intended movements, according to Sir William's de- 

General Washington would, indeed! He went obligingly to 
work at once. The truth was seriously fractured in the process; 
but after all, if the British commander was asking for docu- 
ments, the least the American commander could do was to sup- 
ply them. 

General Washington's own correspondence shows that the 
commander-in-chief personally prepared the completely fraudu- 
lent returns, giving entirely erroneous strength figures for the 
Continental Army. He also wrote (one can hardly say forged, 
since the papers were genuine Washingtoniana) a few brief 
memoranda, showing his own "intentions" of doing .things he 
had not the remotest idea of doing. On November 22, 1777, 
Major Clark was able to report that his secret agent had placed 
the documents in the hands of Sir William Howe himself. 

To help the scheme along, Major Clark had, at the same time, 
indulged in a few imaginative flights of his own. On November 
4, 1777, when the orders went out to Generals Gates, Dickinson 
and Putnam, he was instructed to inform the enemy that 
Gates was sending "a very Handsome Reinforcement" to the 
American Army outside Philadelphia, but would still be able 
to attack New York City, "now having nothing to do to the 
Northward," after Burgoyne's capitulation. Clark was to re- 
peat the story that Dickinson would attack Staten Island, add- 
ing that Washington himself, with large militia reinforcements, 
would attack Philadelphia, "to put an end to the War this win- 
ter." Major Clark's "friend" took all these fairy tales into the 
city, for the benefit of the enemy's credulous commander. 

Two days later, the major was reporting to Washington one 
can almost hear the deceitful pair chuckling that the British 
now believed the Continental Army outside Philadelphia had 
received a reinforcement of eight thousand men from General 
Gates. Obviously, some unknown American spy of Clark's was 
so close to British headquarters that he knew what the staff offi- 
cers were thinking, as well as what they were doing. 

All of this false information was planted with such dexterity 
that the whole mass of fraud seemed to hang together. Each 

The Cherry Tree Hero Tells Some Whoppers 193 

successive false report was confirmed by others just as false, 
which appeared to come from independent sources in three or 
four different statesthough all of them had been guilefully 
concocted or ordered by the truthful hero of the legendary 
cherry tree. Clinton really was made to believeas General 
Washington and Major Clark had hoped-that strong forces 
(which didn't exist) might attack him in New York at any mo- 
ment. Howe was made to believe that other strong forces 
(which didn't exist, either) threatened Philadelphia. If the two 
distracted British generals compared notes, they found that all 
these military intelligence reports, from four "independent" 
sources, confirmed one another perfectly. Who could doubt the 
truthfulness of documents prepared by General George Wash- 
ington himself? 

Sir Henry Clinton, it need hardly be said, kept his troops in 
New York and manfully prepared for the worst. Sir William 
Howe, in Philadelphia, made ready for eight thousand new ene- 
mies (who were not there). 

It is likely that one seemingly great success in espionage, 
upon which Howe's staff plumed themselves, was really part of 
Major Clark's elaborate deception. On December 6, 1777, an 
American spy, lounging about Howe's headquarters, saw a 
"plain Dre/sed Man" hand a note to a staff major, who took it 
at once to the general's private office, returning with the re- 
mark: "This is a damn'd clever fellow, his intelligence from 
time to time has been of great use to us." When another officer 
asked where the spy got his information, the major answered 
triumphantly: "From Washington's HeadQuarters." He was 
unquestionably right; for this was at the very time when Gen- 
eral Washington and Major Clark had been fabricating infor- 

The two seem to have entered into their machinations with 
the mischievous delight of two naughty schoolboys. Clark knew 
well enough that a sense of humor, usually concealed, lurked 
beneath his general's statuesque and marble mien. In one re- 
port, the major writes that a recent exploit in espionage "will 
afford you a laugh." Under a flag of truce, Major Clark had 
himself openly entered the British lines, where he had been al- 


lowed to see a great deal he ought not to have seen, before a 
polite Hessian officer apologetically decided he would have to 
be blindfolded. But the cloth was so carelessly adjusted that 
the quick-witted Pennsylvanian could see almost all he needed 
to see. 

General Washington kept up this sort of thing all through 
the war. In 1779 he was thinking out a good lie plus some 
harmless truth for his spy, Elijah Hunter, and supplying Gen- 
eral William Maxwell with "Fictitious questions and answers 
respecting the American Army for the use of a spy/' which 
Maxwell was requested to have copied "in an indifferent hand, 
preserving the bad spelling/ 1 In March, 1780, the commander- 
in-chief had a chance to supply false information, through the 
American General Robert Howe, to a man whose name is given 
as Beekwith and who may have been a spy, or perhaps Captain 
George Beekwith, aide to General von Knyphausen. "Beek- 
with" had written to someone whose name is indicated only by 
a dash, evidently a double spy who was also reporting to the 
Americans. General Washington, after writing out what he 
himself wished transmitted to the enemy, instructed his general 
"to fill up what I have left open, in such a manner, as will an- 
swer our purposes and at the same time suit the character 
which the writer bears with the enemy." 

He was to pass on false intelligence which would "magnify 
the present force on the North river/' Not too much exaggera- 
tion, either. A good, plausible prevarication. General Wash- 
ington wanted everything to sound credible: "Keep it within 
the bounds of what may be thought reasonable or probable." 
In June, he gave orders to send a supposedly double agent to 
persuade the British that the Americans were specially inter- 
ested in information about the magazines at Fort Washington 
and other places accessible by water, thus hinting at an impend- 
ing attack on New York. 

In July, he sent the spy, John Mersereau, an elaborate mass 
of naval misinformation regarding the French fleet and twelve 
thousand imaginary French or Spanish soldiers, which was to 
be passed to Brigadier Cortlandt Skinner. In September, Mer- 

The Cherry Tree Hero Tells Some Whoppers 195 

sereau wrote, asking for false Information from the south, which 
he proposed to transmit to the enemy. 

There is a certain relish in his tone, which suggests that Gen- 
eral Washington thoroughly enjoyed the tricks he was playing, 
just as Major Clark enjoyed the elaborate series of mystifica- 
tions he and his general cooked up together. It is diverting 
to reflect that both Sir William and Sir Henry went to their 
graves believing the tremendous lies George Washington had 
told them. All that was missing was a little hatchet. 


The Miracles of Major Clark 

THE FAIRY TALES he helped General Washington compose for 
General Howe's benefit were but a small part of Major John 
Clark's achievements, during the anxious period before the 
Continental Army withdrew, in early December, 1777, to its 
bleak winter quarters at Valley Forge. The intelligence service 
that had been organized earlier in the year before the theater 
of operations moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania was now 
supplying General Washington with a steady flow of accurate 
information, a large part of which can have come only from 
the patriot spies who had been carefully posted in Philadelphia 
and its vicinity before the enemy arrived. 

The swiftness with which Major Clark, Captain Charles Craig 
and their agents collected and transmitted intelligence never 
flagged. In mysterious ways of their own, the American spies 
were able to get intelligence out of the enemy's territory with 
extraordinary speed and in perfect safety, no matter what the 
enemy (who knew very well what was going on) did to block 
them. Again and again, dates and hours of surviving messages 
show that information was on its way from Clark or Craig 
to General Washington only a few hours after spies had picked 
it up in Philadelphia. All these secret agents remained un- 


The Miracles of ^ajor Clark 197 

suspected except for two or three, who either escaped or talked 
their way out of their difficulties; and one of these may not 
have been a spy for either Clark or Craigmay not. indeed, 
have been a spy at all. 

At least three times during this period, the alertness of the 
intelligence service and nothing else saved American forces 
from surprise and probable annihilation. It warned of attacks 
on Fort Mifflin and Fort Mercer, on the Delaware below Phil- 
adelphia, in time for the entire garrisons to get safely away. 
It warned General Washington repeatedly, over a period of 
several days, of Sir William Howe's intention of surprising 
him at Whitemarsh so accurately and so far in advance that 
the British were completely baffled. It warned Lafayette of 
the British columns advancing to surprise and surround him 
at Barren Hill, when his own reconnoissance had totally failed. 
It warned of Howe's advance to Darby, Pennsylvania. Only 
once did the Pennsylvania spies fail. They did not warn An- 
thony Wayne before the Paoli Massacre, when the British were 
allowed to approach through the night completely undiscovered 
either by the intelligence service or by Wayne's own patrols. 

How greatly the American secret service had improved,, be- 
came apparent as soon as the Continental Army was driven 
out of Philadelphia. All winter long, the British were under 
continual observation. Near the British outpost lines, Amer- 
ican reconnoissance detachments were always hovering. Indi- 
vidual officers at advanced posts were in direct touch with 
individual secret agents, permanently stationed in or near Phil- 
adelphiaunobtrusive private citizens, natives of the area, fa- 
miliar figures for years, whose presence needed no explanation. 
Among so many ordinary and apparently harmless people, 
it was impossible for the British to guess which were spies. 
But the fact that numerous patriot secret agents were actively 
at work the moment the British came, shows how effectively 
the Americans had built up their system in advance. 

The contrast with the situation in New York in 1776, only 
a year before, when Washington had been totally in the dark 
as to enemy intentions and capabilities, was positively startling. 
By 1777, the Continental commander always knew what Howe 


could do. He sometimes knew several days in advance exactly 
what Howe was going to do. And the commander-in-chief 
himself evaluated the intelligence, as it came in, with unerring 

Though General Mifflin had made the preliminary arrange- 
ments for organized espionage in Philadelphia and its vicinity 
some months earlier, he soon turned to other duties, leaving 
American intelligence in this theater of operations mainly in 
the hands of Major John Clark, who did nothing else; Colonel 
Elias Boudinot, who also served as commissary of prisoners; 
Captain Charles Craig, at Frankford, north of Philadelphia; 
and Major Allan McLane, chiefly engaged in cavalry recon- 
noissance, but ready to assist intelligence agents, when needed, 
and operating a small network of volunteer spies, all his own. 

Major Clark, a line officer at the beginning of the war, had 
been gaining experience in military intelligence in New Jersey, 
probably in 1776, certainly during the early part of 1777. About 
this time, he thought of a plan he never told what it was 
"to gain immediate intelligence of the enemy/' He was al- 
lowed to test his scheme, "at great personal hazard/' after which 
he reported results directly to General Washington. So com- 
plete was his success the exact nature of which still remains 
unrevealed that the gratified commander-in-chief, as Major 
Clark wrote after the war, "gave me unlimited command and 
power to do as I pleased/' in the intelligence service in south- 
eastern Pennsylvania an area with which he was perfectly 
familiar, since he had grown up there. By December 11, 1776, 
and probably long before that, he was on special duty in Bristol, 
Pennsylvania, midway between Philadelphia and Trenton. 

The major soon had an almost perfect spy net operating out 
of Philadelphia. One of his agents was an old woman. Others 
were disguised as farmers or hucksters, carrying special passes 
that freed them from interference by American guards and 
patrols. Some were Philadelphia gentry. One agent was aboard 
the British fleet, while another had special orders to mingle as 
much as possible with British officers, with many of whom he 
was "Very intimately acquainted." 

Most members of this ring have never been identified and 

The Miracles of Major Clark 199 

probably never can be; but, whoever they were, they revealed 
an uncanny ability to ferret out military secrets, A few days 
after the British occupied Philadelphia (September 26, 1777), 
an intelligence report from Clark's network was on its way to 
General Washington. Though fighting at Germantown did not 
cease till ten o'clock in the morning of October 4, 1777, Clark 
was reporting British losses, from intelligence sources within 
the British lines, by five o'clock in the morning of October 6, 
By ten o'clock, the major had a second report, this time from 
a secret agent whose name he dared not reveal, even to General 
Washington. The American spy had been chatting with Gen- 
eral Howe at Germantown during the battle. The reports he 
gave Clark showed that the enemy had "suffered prodigiously." 
Several senior officers were reported killed. General von 
Knyphausen was wounded in the hand. "Many officers say that 
you had completely surprised them." The same message re- 
ported a movement of troops and wagons southward toward 

After this brilliant coup, Clark was ordered to "tarry in this 
country" and hovered about the city, just out of British reach, 
for nearly three months, riding twenty to sixty miles a day in 
all weathers, keeping rendezvous with secret agents who came 
and went from Philadelphia almost at will, wearing out his own 
horses and then the army's, till he had to beg his commander 
for mounts. 

"My horses are almost ruined; the only one I had left is 
foundered," he wrote within a few weeks." ... I have ruined 
two or three of my own." He suffered severely from cold, be- 
cause he had reached Pennsylvania in light clothing and could 
get nothing warmer. Once he tells Washington: "My hands 
are so cold I can scarce write you." This reference to summer 
uniform indicates how early in the year he had begun his share 
of organizing the Philadelphia network; and the number of his 
spies shows the same thingfor it takes time to set up so large 
a network. 

Even after occupying Philadelphia, the British had still to 
reduce the American Forts MifHin and Mercer, which blocked 
the Delaware River below the city, interfering with British 


transports trying to bring in supplies the redcoats had to have. 
Knowing that the British would eventually attempt to clear the 
lower Delaware, the Americans watched the two forts anxiously. 

The combined land and naval attack on both of them began 
on October 22, 1777, after some days of operations against Fort 
Mifflin alone. Clark sent General Washington, that very day, a 
report for which an aide thanked him profusely, asking for 
more intelligence and sending a hundred dollars for expenses. 
The commanding general thought his intelligence officer too 
sanguine in predicting the British would soon give up this first 
attack; but Major Clark was right. After a little fighting, the 
enemy's land forces withdrew, though only for a brief period. 
Five days later, two of Clark's agents sent word that thirty-three 
boatloads of wounded had been brought in, the day after the 
fight. Always careful about accuracy, Clark took the precaution 
of riding through the night to verify these facts by another 
source, before reporting at 9:00 A.M. 

By this time the enemy's counterintelligence had stationed 
local Tories, who knew patriots of the vicinity by sight, at all 
entrances to Philadelphia, to head off Clark's spies; and the 
high sheriff of the county was a particular danger. "However, 
we now and then get by him," observed Clark cheerfully, 
though admitting that he was not getting intelligence so easily 
as he once had hoped. Disaffected people of the countryside 
began to develop strong suspicions of the young major, whose 
mysterious comings and goings at all hours could not be wholly 
concealed. The Tories were now watching him, Major Clark 
noted, as "a hawk would a chicken"; and, since there was always 
danger that he might be betrayed to the British and captured 
in a swift raid, he was careful to change his quarters frequently. 

It is startling to see how much the Americans by this time 
knew about what the British were doing in Philadelphia and 
how often they knew in advance what the enemy meant to do. 
General Washington had strength returns of British and Ger- 
man troops less than two months after the enemy entered the 
city, and had probably had others much earlier. Two American 
officers warned of the first attack on Fort Mifflin on October 
17, 1777. On November 3, nearly three weeks before the second 

The Miracles of Major Clark 201 

land attack on the fort, Clark's spy in Philadelphia, "an exceed- 
ingly intelligent fellow/' was reporting British preparations to 
send troops against both of the river forts. Boldly mingling 
with enemy forces, the spy had been "treated with great polite- 
ness by the officers/ 1 had chatted with wagoners about ammuni- 
tion for the attack, and had personally examined the enemy's 
troops, camps, artillery and trains, before reporting his conclu- 
sions. Major Clark received the commander-in-chief's "appro- 
bation" next day. By November 8, Washington himself had 
received a personal warning, through "a very intelligent person 
from Philadelphia/' that Fort Mifflin would soon be attacked. 
Washington's agent had assiduously collected careless remarks 
by senior British officers to supposedly trustworthy people. 
Meantime, another of Clark's agents kept constant watch at 
Marcus Hook and Chester, in the lower Delaware, past which 
an attacking fleet would have to sail. 

Forts Mifflin and Mercer were soon under another vigorous 
naval bombardment, but the troops Clark's spy had observed 
did not at first move against them. When at last the British 
decided to renew the land attack on both forts, General Wash- 
ington had abundant information, well ahead of time. The 
first news that the British would move down the west bank of 
the Delaware, against Fort Mifflin, came from Captain Charles 
Craig, at Frankford, just above Philadelphia, on November 15, 
before Cornwallis had even started. Thus forewarned and fear- 
ing to be overpowered, the American garrison slipped quietly 
away on the night of the i5th/i6th. Cornwallis did not march 
until about midnight of the 1 6th/ 1 7th. 

An unknown American agent in Philadelphia at once re- 
ported to Washington the effect of the evacuation, the general 
British situation in Philadelphia, new batteries, and the prob- 
able next move, getting the report into his hands by Novem- 
ber 17. 

Finding Fort Mifflin abandoned, Cornwallis crossed the Dela- 
ware into New Jersey, exactly as predicted, to attack Fort 
Mercer, while American spies hung doggedly on his trail. "If 
the enemy are going to cross the Delaware," wrote Major Clark 
to General Washington at 10:00 A.M., November 17, "you will 


have information instantly/* a promise which his spy system 
abundantly fulfilled. At nine o'clock next morning, November 
18, Clark reported that "a young fellow of character" was at that 
moment in Philadelphia finding out "the enemy's designs/' with 
special orders "to mingle with the British officers; as he is ac- 
quainted with several of them, and very intimately/' 

The first "hard" news of Cornwallis's intention to cross the 
Delaware into New Jersey and assail Fort Mercer also came 
from Captain Craig, who reported early the same day, "the 
enemy intend some Grand Menouver in Jersey.'* At eleven- 
thirty, Craig followed this up with news that Cornwallis had 
crossed the river with four thousand men. After that, spies' 
reports came pouring swiftly in, all day long. At noon, Clark 
reported five thousand men moving out of Philadelphia with 
artillery and about to cross the Delaware, obviously to attack 
Fort Mercer. At half-past two, that afternoon, Craig's assistant, 
Lieutenant John Heard, at Frankford, confirmed reports of 
Cornwallis's movements and added that the British had so 
stripped the Philadelphia defenses that they could not man the 
lines. Heard had this information "direct from the City/' and 
it was independently confirmed by another agent, who had been 
chatting with a friendly British sergeant who thought the 
American spy was "well affected to the Royal Army." At three- 
thirty, Craig corrected his eleven-thirty report on British 
strength. Gornwallis had only two thousand men, would move 
to Wilmington, would cross the Delaware there, and would then 
attack Fort Mercer. At four o'clock Clark confirmed earlier 
reports of the enemy's intention to cross the Delaware and re- 
ported troops embarking. 

There were two more confirmatory reports during the eve- 
ning. At eight o'clock, General Potter reported the whole 
British force had crossed and that Fort Mercer could not be 
held. At nine-thirty Joseph Reed sent word that the British at 
Chester had crossed to New Jersey and might attack Fort Mer- 
cer that night. At ten o'clock, Washington suggested that Briga- 
dier General Varnum try to find "some countrymen" to go visit 
the British under the usual pretense of selling provisions and 
see exactly what they were now doing. 

The Miracles of Major Clark 

On November 19, Craig reported in the morning, again at 
one o'clock, and again at two. The British had not all crossed 
the Delaware; Cornwallis was still on the Pennsylvania bank; 
but there would certainly be an attack on Fort Mercer also 
called Redbank. 

At 8:30 P.M., Brigadier General Potter confirmed the British 
crossing of the Delaware, adding "Redbank must now fall." At 
nine-thirty, Joseph Reed reported that Cornwallis had crossed, 
that the British "made no Secret of their Intentions to attack 
Red Bank," that they said they would storm the fort that night, 
but that the attack would probably not be made till later. 

Sometime during the evening, an unknown spy managed to 
get out of Philadelphia with the news that General Howe was 
sending still further reinforcements to Cornwallis for the attack 
on Fort Mercer. Thus warned, the American garrison removed 
most of their stores to safety, burned some of their shipping, and 
themselves slipped away on the night of November 20/21. The 
safe evacuation of two forts was hardly a military triumph; but 
no troops had been lost; and it was the new intelligence service 
that had saved them. The last spy's report reached General 
Greene, instead of Washington perhaps because Clark had 
been one of Greene's staff officers on November 23, "by a 
Woman who came thro' the Enemy encampments this day." 
This plucky and skeptical lady reported the enemy's numbers: 
"They give out that they have 10,000 Men, but she thought 
they had not half the number." There were eighty to one hun- 
dred light infantry. Lord Cornwallis was living at "M r Coop- 
ers." She had located the line of outguards and troop disposi- 
tions and thought there was a chance for an American attack on 
Philadelphia. Such definite intelligence proved that most of 
the enemy's troops were elsewhere; but General Washington 
decided not to try it. 

Clark continued his intelligence work through December, 
taking an active part in the espionage that saved Washington 
from Howe's attempt to surprise him at Whitemarsh, early in 
December. His spies, sometimes posing as illicit dealers in pro- 
visions, went back and forth from Philadelphia, undisturbed by 
British precautions, and kept Washington constantly informed 


of the movements of foragers, work on entrenchments, British 
strength and British supplies. 

A spy gave timely warning December 21, 1777, that the 
enemy would be out in strength to forage in Darby, Marple and 
Springfield townships. General Howe, with seven thousand 
men duly arrived in Darby next day, exactly as predicted. 
Major Clark reported his movements twice that day. 

The success of Clark's spies was largely due to their boldness 
and to perfect concealment of their identity. One, caught by 
Howe's advanced guard and taken to headquarters, seems to 
have come to no harm. Two days after Howe's arrival at Darby, 
another penetrated almost to the British generals' headquarters, 
unsuspected. Washington gave up his idea of attacking Howe 
there, but only after consulting Major Clark and Light Horse 
Harry Lee, both of whom advised against it. 

So well were Clark's secret agents covered that, though one 
or two others may have been arrested, even these arrests are 
not quite certain,none of them seems to have been executed. 
This is the more remarkable because some of the spies passed 
through the hands of the treacherous Colonel William Rankin, 
who, though a Pennsylvania Militia officer, was later in corre- 
spondence with Clinton and Andr6, planning a Tory rising to 
restore British power. Perhaps Rankin thought the spies were 
genuine dealers in illicit provisions and had no wish to keep the 
British from getting food. At least once, however, Rankin 
seized one of Clark's agents, "Mr. Trumbull," and the provi- 
sions he was smuggling to the British, with Washington's ap- 
proval, "as a cover to procure intelligence''; and the com- 
mander-in-chief had to intervene personally, to save Trumbull. 

Once, too, Clark feared that a spy had met with disaster in 
Philadelphia, but as he says nothing further, the endangered 
agent must have escaped, after all. The Philadelphia merchant, 
Robert Ritchie, jailed by the British for "giving intelligence 
to Gen'l Washington's army," may have been one of Clark's 
men, though Mrs. Ritchie seems more likely to have been the 
real spy. 

Once a Tory seized a startled American agent by the coat, 
snarling "damn'd Rebel" in the hearing of British sentries, but 

The Miracles of Major Clark 205 

the man spurred his horse to safety. Presently he had the odd 
experience of seeing his accuser brought in as a prisoner by 
American troops, and hearing the Tory appeal to the man 
whose life he had endangered, as a witness to his patriotism! (It 
is, of course, just possible the Tory was really another American 

Clark had far more trouble with zealous Americans who in- 
terfered with the black-market cover he arranged for his agents, 
and who once ruined a plan to secure vital intelligence by 
arresting an American spy before he could reach the British. 

Major Clark's escapades went on till early January, 1778, 
when both armies were in winter quarters. Then in failing 
health, partly from hardship and partly from an old wound- 
he retired to his home in York, Pennsylvania, to visit his wife, 
having first made sure that his spy nets would continue to 
operate. Washington secured for him a staff appointment as 
"auditor/* which Clark held as long as he had the strength, 
though he was eventually compelled to leave the army entirely. 


Spies in the Quaker City 

MANY OTHER SPIES added to the intelligence sent in through 
Major Clark; but there is no way of telling whether they 
belonged to his organization or to several different American 
networks, operating independently. A surviving letter here, a 
local legend there, an old soldier's casual statement in a pension 
claim, occasional references in military documents and accounts, 
and one complete story, which the gallant Quakeress, Friend 
Lydia Darragh, told her daughter, are the only indications that 
remain. It is clear, however, that by this time Colonel Elias 
Boudinot was recognized as a staff intelligence officer; that Colo- 
nel Elias Dayton was still operating an independent system; 
that the "Green Boys" along the Wissahickon were busy with 
espionage of some kind perhaps as part of Major Clark's or- 
ganization; that at least three volunteer women spies were in 
touch with headquarters; that various generals were operating 
small spy rings of their own; and that Allan McLane, whose 
cavalry hovered constantly just beyond the British outposts 
covering Philadelphia, frequently employed spies as well as 
scouts. Captain Stephen Chambers was also operating some 
kind of intelligence service between Valley Forge and Philadel- 
phia in March, 1778. 


Spies in the Quaker City 207 

General Washington himself dealt with a few secret agents 
directly. One of these was probably the German baker and 
specialist in fancy gingerbread Christopher Ludwick, who, as 
"Baker General" of the Continental Army, supplied such 
bread as he could to the troops at Valley Forge. German born, 
long in business in Philadelphia, he was the ideal agent to 
encourage German troops to desert and could hardly help min- 
gling espionage with these duties. 

Another of General Washington's personal spies was the ex- 
marine captain, Jacob Bankson, whose first offer to enter Phila- 
delphia as a secret agent led to strong suspicion that he was 
really a British spy. The ex-marine had always been able to go 
in and out of British-occupied Philadelphia in some mysterious 
way of his own. This uncanny ability or something else made 
General Washington so suspicious that, in the spring of 1778, 
he asked Governor William Livingston, of New Jersey, to have 
the captain watched. Four days later, Livingston put a counter- 
intelligence agent on the suspect's trail, which on that very day 
led straight to General Washington's headquarters! Still un- 
convinced, the general had Alexander Hamilton check the 
man's background in Princeton. Fully cleared of all suspicion 
in a few more days, Bankson was twice paid $100 for secret 
service, April 11 and May i, 1778, though what he did remains 

There were still other spies in the Quaker City, with well 
protected channels for sending intelligence swiftly and secretly 
out of the city, to Whitemarsh and Valley Forge. Between 
Philadelphia and Continental headquarters, operated a highly 
irregular group of patriot guerrillas, "the Green Boys," among 
whom were the Levering brothers, covering the country be- 
tween Manayunk, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia, along the 
Wissahickon Creek. Jacob Levering frequently entered the 
British lines by canoeing openly down the Schuylkill to Phila- 
delphia, posing as a Quaker farmer, and selling market produce 
from door to door. 

The two other brothers were equally active, though only 
John Levering was known to Tories as a spy. Jacob, though 
still unsuspected, was captured and almost hanged by mistake, 


before his neighbors convinced the British that he was not the 
suspected John Levering. He was at once released; and no one 
felt obliged to add the information that Jacob was, if anything, 
a more active American secret agent than his brother. Jacob 
Levering habitually carried a pass from General Washington, 
which would at once have convicted him, had it been discov- 
ered. Either he was not carrying it the day of his capture or 
else his person was not adequately searched. 

Some of the intelligence from Philadelphia was smuggled to 
"Old Mom" Rinker, whose family had long kept the Buck 
Tavern, in Germantown. "Mom Rinker 's Rock" is still pointed 
out in Fainnount Park. Mom's flax was said to be the best 
bleached in the whole neighborhood, because she laid it out on 
a rock of her own, high on its cliff above the Wissahickon Val- 
ley, where sunlight lingered longer than anywhere else a rock 
which also stood where everybody could see it. 

Flax and sunlight were not the only things that lingered on 
Mom Rinker's rock. When intelligence of the British forces 
reached her, Mom Rinker who was at that time still fairly 
young would presently be seen, seated on the sun-warm stone, 
knitting. There was nothing suspicious about that. If by 
chance a British patrol passed that way, all it could see was a 
woman placidly engaged in the most peaceful of domestic tasks. 

How could the British guess that that quiet figure was under 
observation by Green Boys, watching from the hillside opposite? 
Eventually, at the right moment, Mom would carelessly drop 
her ball of yarn, in such a way that it rolled over the cliff. Here, 
in due time, it was picked up by the Green Boys, and the papers 
around which it was rolled were sent on to Washington. It was 
dramatic in the most literal sense. Using her rock as a stage, 
Mom Rinker deliberately acted out in public an assumed role 
before two audiences at once the Green Boys and any Tories 
who might be wandering that way. She was, it is true, often 
suspected of doing exactly what she was doing, but she acted 
her role so well, suspicion did no harm. She was also suspected 
of witchcraft; but nothing was ever proved against her; and, 
after all, the Articles of War do not forbid witchcraft. 

When, on November 2, 1777, General Washington put the 

Spies in the Quaker City 209 

beaten Continental Army in position at Whitemarsh, an easy 
night's march from the British in Philadelphia, he was in con- 
stant danger of attack. Well aware of this, the general was care- 
ful to place his troops in a strong position on thickly wooded 
hills, with a morass and a stream covering its front, a breast- 
work barring the only good ford. There was always a chance 
that the British might push in on either flank. General Wash- 
ington was well aware of that, too. 

After the Americans had been at Whitemarsh for about a 
month, Howe decided on a night march, a dawn attack, and a 
surprise that would smash the rebellion once for all. Orders 
went out to get the troops ready. Instantly, the American spy 
system began to pour information in upon the grave Virginian 
at Whitemarsh, each of the independent reports confirming the 

On November 29, almost a week before Howe was ready to 
move out of Philadelphia, the Americans already knew that he 
was coming. On that date, General John Armstrong wrote 
President Wharton, of Pennsylvania: "Every intelligence agrees 
that General Howe now, no doubt with his whole force, is 
immediately to take the field in quest of this army." Since the 
Americans expected attack at any moment, Armstrong had al- 
ready called in the Pennsylvania Brigade, which had been 
pushed forward to the west bank of the Schuylkill. 

Armstrong's message is interesting because it refers to "every 
intelligence." Already, then, more than one report had come 
in; and it goes without saying that, if a mere division com- 
mander had all these facts, the commander-in-chief had fuller 

On December i, 1777, General Washington heard from Ma- 
jor John Clark, still "on spy service/' who reported: "Orders 
were given to the troops to hold themselves in readiness to 
march." Enemy capability? "They either mean to surprise your 
army or to prevent your making an attack on them." 

On December 2, Captain Charles Craig, at Frankford, warned 
of British preparations: "The enemy Intend to make a push 
out and indeavour to drive your Excellency from the present 
encampment." Five hundred redcoats had crossed the Schuyl- 


kill. On the same day, Robert Smith reported from German- 
town that "Hardly anything has come out to Day" which 
sounds as if normally a good deal of intelligence reached him 
there, in spite of the British occupation. Some ladies, who had 
managed to leave Philadelphia "by special Favor/' reported to 
Smith gossip among British officers that there would be a move- 
ment early on the morning of the third. Destination and route 
were doubtful, but the troops were being paid and issued new 
uniforms. Smith's date was about a day and a half wrong, but 
he was correct in predicting that the British would bring boats, 
mounted on wheels, with them. 

On December 3, Craig reported again. Three thousand 
troops with six guns and boats had crossed the Schuylkill and 
meant to strike the American rear. They seemed eager to know 
where American stores and baggage were. 

At one o'clock that afternoon, Clark sent the same intelli- 
gence: "The enemy are in motion, have a number of flat- 
bottomed boats and carriages and scantlings, and are busy 
pressing horses and wagons. No persons permitted to come out, 
except those upon whom they can depend." 'In motion" did 
not necessarily mean that British troops were already marching, 
but only that they were actively getting ready for a military 
operation of some kind. 

At six o'clock, Clark sent the report of an American spy who 
had left Philadelphia at noon: "This morning a Sergeant, a 
countryman of my spy's, assured him that the Troops had re- 
ceived orders to hold themselves in readiness when called for, 
and to draw two days provisions. Biscuit was served out to them 
when he came away, and 'twas the current language in the city 
among the Troops and citizens, that they were going to make a 
move." On December 4, an agent signing only "W.D " also 
reported the coming attack. 

At the very last moment a final warning came in from Cap- 
tain Allan McLane, reconnoitering with his cavalry: "An at- 
tempt to surprise the American camp at White Marsh was 
about to be made." 

But meantime, a quiet housewife was surpassing the whole 
elaborate secret service that had been so long prepared and re- 

Spies in the Quaker City 

vealing the enemy's exact plan, from within the enemy's most 
secret councils. In Philadelphia, a respectable Quaker matron 
had for some time been running an espionage agency all her 
own- from a vantage point few spies enjoy; for her house stood 
directly opposite an enemy headquarters, where she could see 
the daily comings and goings of the enemy's staff. At least once 
she walked boldly in, to talk with an officer there. 

This daring volunteer spy was Lydia Darragh, whose family 
occupied the Loxley House, then No. 177 on the east side of 
Second Street, below Spruce Street, at the southeast corner of 
Little Dock Street. Almost opposite stood the Cadwalader 
House, for a time the headquarters of Sir William Howe him- 
self, later taken over by the German Lieutenant General von 
Knyphausen. It has been conjectured that a Captain Barring- 
ton, then serving with the British, may have been Lydia Dar- 
ragh's kinsman, for her maiden name was Barrington, and her 
schoolmaster husband, William Darragh, had been private tu- 
tor in the Barrington family in Ireland. If Captain Barrington 
really was Lydia's relative, it did American intelligence no 
harm, though the captain had no idea how he was being used; 
and no one ever suspected the clever Quakeress till the war was 
over and she told her own story. 

Lydia Darragh's espionage was a strictly family affair. She 
herself collected the information. William Darragh then wrote 
his wife's reports in shorthand on bits of paper, small enough 
to be hidden in the large "mould buttons" of the period. Since 
these were covered with cloth of the same material as the coat 
they adorned, Friend Lydia could go on covering and recover- 
ing any number of buttons, whenever she had military intelli- 
gence to send to General Washington. Her fourteen-year-old 
son, John, then slipped off to the American camp, wearing the 
buttons, cut them off, and delivered them to his elder brother, 
Lieutenant Charles Darragh a task to delight any adventurous 
teen-ager. The lieutenant, who, like his father, knew short- 
hand, transcribed his mother's notes for General Washington. 
Occasionally, Mrs. Darragh "sent little messages by other 
hands." She continued this as long as she had anything to send, 
without ever being suspected, though for one terrifying half 


hour she feared (quite needlessly) that the enemy had discov- 
ered her at last. 

Exactly what military intelligence was in these messages is a 
secret now lost forever, except for one intelligence triumph of 
the first magnitude. Not long before their attempt to surprise 
General Washington at Whitemarsh, the British had uncon- 
sciously played directly into Lydia Darragh's hands. Needing 
more rooms, their billeting officers ordered William Darragh to 
turn over his house to the army "and find other quarters for his 
family." Lydia J s personal protests at headquarters presumably 
to Captain Harrington -led to a modification of British de- 
mands; and General Howe contented himself with one room 
for a "council chamber/' allowing the Darraghs to keep the rest 
of their house. 

Modern writers, who have never helped to occupy an enemy 
town, have sometimes doubted that officers of the occupation 
forces would use an American house for such a purpose. There 
are three answers to these skeptics. One is that an occupying 
army has to use such buildings as exist. A second is that the 
Darragh family were Quakers, who would supposedly take no 
part in the war. A third is that British billeting officers could 
not be expected to know that the Quaker son of this particular 
Quaker household was an officer in the American Army. 
(Eventually the Friends' meeting to which the Darraghs be- 
longed cast out Lieutenant Charles Darragh for "engaging in 
matters of a warlike nature," and his mother for "neglecting 
to attend our religious meetings"; but that was some years later.) 

Lydia gave the British one room at the back of the house and 
sent her younger children to the country. Officers in scarlet 
canie and went. There was much conferring in the Darraghs* 
back room. On December 2, 1777, several days after the Ameri- 
can intelligence service had already begun to warn the Conti- 
nental Army, an officer instructed Lydia Darragh to send all 
her family to bed early, "as they wished to use the room that 
night free from interruption." The officers would arrive about 

It was as good as an invitation to eavesdrop a temptation 
which the Quakeress at first heroically resisted. The Darraghs 

Spies in the Quaker City 213 

dutifully went to bed, as ordered, but Lydia could not sleep. 
"A presentiment of evil weighed down her spirits." This se- 
cret consultation boded ill for the Continental camp, where her 
son lay sleeping, within easy striking distance. From the con- 
ference room, she could hear the voices of the enemy's staff. At 
last she could stand it no longer. She slipped silently into a 
closet adjoining the conference room, where there was nothing 
between her and the conferring staff officers but a thin board 
partition, covered with wallpaper. 

She had begun to eavesdrop far too late. The officers were 
about to leave; but she was in time to hear the final reading of 
the paper that summed up their decision. The British would 
march out of Philadelphia by night on December 4. They 
would "attack Washington's army, and with their superior 
force and the unprepared condition of the [American] enemy 
victory was certain." 

Hurrying back to bed, the agitated mother feigned an un- 
usually sound sleep. The conference broke up. Chairs scraped. 
There was a rattle of swords. Military boots clattered over the 
floor. Then a sharp tap at her bedroom door. An officer had 
come to tell her to lock the house after them and see to their 
fire and candles. Since the frightened woman at first made no 
reply, the gullible Briton noted with satisfaction that Mrs. Dar- 
ragh seemed unusually sleepy. 

It took her all next day (December 3, 1777) to decide on a 
course of action. It might not be easy to pass the British out- 
guaiHs. She would need a pretext and it would have to be a 
good one. According to one version of the story, she pretended 
to be going to see her children. According to another, she pre- 
tended to be on her way to a mill at Frankford, for flour. 
Either tale was perfectly plausible, and she probably told both. 

But she told her husband nothing, merely announcing that 
she was going to use a British pass she already possessed, to go 
out into the country. 

Lydia Darragh's unwillingness to confide in her husband is 
easily explained. The fewer people, however trustworthy, 
who are involved in such an affair, the better. This time, she 
would not need his shorthand. She was probably carrying the 


whole report in her head and, if so, she was wiser than either 
Hale or Andre. Besides, her errand involved both risks and 
hardships. William Darragh might have tried to stop his daunt- 
less Lydia, for he is said to have been mildly surprised that she 
did not wish to take her maid with her, when she announced 
her trip. 

Once more, fortune favored the brave. Lydia Darragh had 
some hardships, but very little difficulty. She trudged along the 
road running northeast from Philadelphia to a mill on Frank- 
ford Creek. British outposts let her through. Why not? Her 
dress showed she was a Friend. She had General Howe's pass. 
A small and rather frail woman, no longer young, hardly 
seemed dangerous. Let her through! That she was trudging 
several miles afoot through Pennsylvania's December cold 
seemed less suspicious than it would today, for American 
women of the Revolution were sturdier than their great-great- 
granddaughters. Besides, her errand seemed quite natural. 
Philadelphians habitually did walk out of town to mills near 
the city; and, during the American occupation, General Wash- 
ington had had to let them continue to do so, ordering the prac- 
tice stopped only a few days before the British marched in. He 
may have realized what a fine excuse the journey was for spies 
wishing to pass the lines something General Howe did not 
think about in time. 

Lydia Darragh is said to have carried an empty flour bag, to 
make her story seem more plausible. If that is true, as it prob- 
ably is, the Quakeress ended her arduous day by carrying a 
heavy bag of flour on her return journey, five miles back from 
Frankford Mill. 

At Frankford, well outside British-held terrain, she could 
move freely and might encounter American scouts or patrols 
almost anywhere. Dropping her bag at the mill, to be filled, she 
turned westward along Nice Town Lane, toward the Rising 
Sun Tavern, kept by "Widow Nice/' or Neuss. 

She had taken the right direction. Somewhere in that general 
area were Captain Allan McLane's cavalry patrols, covering the 
American defense lines at Whitemarsh. Then, or a little later, 
Major Benjamin Tallmadge was also out on reconnoissance. 

Spies in the Quaker City 215 

During the morning, Colonel Elias Boudinot had gone as far 
forward as the Rising Sun, where the Americans had "a small 
post," a few miles west of Frankford Mill. After dining at the 
tavern, the colonel had remained there, using it as an advanced 
post and message center. Somewhere near was Colonel Thomas 
Craig, of the grd Pennsylvania (or perhaps the spy master, Cap- 
tain Charles Craig), mounted, well acquainted with the locality, 
probably in observation of Nice Town Lane. 

It is perfectly clear what was happening. General Washing- 
ton had already had three or four days' warning of Howe's con- 
templated surprise and was taking proper precautions. McLane 
had drawn a cavalry screen, as well as he could, with his few 
troopers. The Americans had a line of observers for several 
miles across all possible enemy approaches. With an attack im- 
minent, the place for the G-2 of the Continental Army was well 
forward; and that is where Colonel Boudinot went. He would 
be just behind the cavalry. His task was to receive and evaluate 
information as soon as received, not to go scouting himself; and 
the event proved he was right. 

Plodding wearily along, Mrs. Darragh presently met an 
American officer. In all probability this was Colonel Craig, 
though some later accounts say she met McLane, and she may 
have met them both. Any unexplained civilians wandering 
down Nice Town Lane from the east were certain to be stopped 
for interrogation that morning. Craig, a Pennsylvania^ who 
knew the Darragh family, was mildly surprised to find an emi- 
nently respectable Philadelphia matron trudging down the win- 
try lane, between two armies. 

"Why, Mrs. Darragh," he is supposed to have asked, "what 
are you doing so far from home?" 

Leading his horse, he walked along beside her, while she 
gave her news. If Colonel Craig knew his duty as a soldier 
and evidence is abundant that he did he either rode straight 
back to General Washington himself or hurried back a mes- 
senger, though it is said that he paused long enough to take the 
weary woman into a farmhouse and made sure she got some 
food. It is also said that she exacted a solemn promise not to 
reveal her identity. 


Lydia Darragh may now have turned around, feeling some- 
what better, picked up her flour at the milllegend says it 
weighed twenty-five pounds and trudged home with a sense of 
duty done. It is too bad that her daughter Ann did not add 
more such details when she later revealed her mother's exploit. 

The Rising Sun Tavern seems to have been a kind of rendez- 
vous for American women spies, operating in or near Philadel- 
phia. Near it, about this time, Major Benjamin Tallmadge 
rescued another woman secret agent, a young girl, from pursu- 
ing British cavalry. This country girl had been sent into 
Philadelphia, ostensibly to sell eggs, actually to "obtain some 
information respecting the enemy." Tallmadge who had rid- 
den forward with a small cavalry force until, from the tavern, he 
could watch British outposts saw the egg merchant emerge from 
the British lines and approach the tavern. While she was giving 
her information to the major, within the Rising Sun, there was 
an alarm, and, from the door, Tallmadge saw the British horse- 
men, "at full speed chasing in my patrols, one of whom they 

With a leap, the major was in the saddle, then found the girl 
at his stirrup, begging for protection. Ever the gentleman, the 
gallant cavalryman "desired her to mount/' she scrambled up, 
and they rode a brisk three miles, with "considerable firing of 
pistols, and not a little wheeling and charging." At German- 
town, the girl dismounted and disappeared. 

The end of Lydia Darragh's mission was much less like a 
moving picture. Colonel Boudinot's memoirs pick up her story 
at this point. Sometime during the afternoon Boudinot says 
"after dinner/' then a midday or afternoon meal a woman 
came into the Rising Sun. She was, according to the colonel, "a 
little, poor-looking, insignificant old woman/' This may have 
been Lydia Darragh herself. She knew that Craig might not 
get the information back in time. If she could inform another 
American field officer, all the better. 

Boudinot's description is puzzlingif he really met Lydia 
Darragh. Mrs. Darragh, though perhaps not "little," was rather 
slight and, after several hours of walking along the road, she 
probably was "poor-looking." As for her being "insignificant," 

Spies in the Quaker City 217 

she was a Quakeress, and the Plain People have never been ex- 
travagant in dress. But even so, the description sounds like 
another woman. Lydia Darragh, according to her daughter, was 
"of a fair complexion, light hair, blue eyes, very delicate in ap- 
pearance and extremely neat; conforming in her dress to the 
Society of Friends." 

Whoever this woman may have been, she immediately began 
to talk to Colonel Boudinot about flour "and solicited leave to 
go into the country to buy some." It sounds as if the stranger 
wanted to make sure she was really talking to Americans. It 
was not always easy to be sure. The Continental Army was 
wearing various uniforms or no uniforms; and not all King 
George's troops were dressed in scarlet. Some of the Hessians 
were in blue. 

Boudinot says "we" asked some questions. An advanced post 
occupied the Rising Sun, and several officers dining there may 
have joined in the interrogation of this mysterious female. 

Presently, the stranger handed Boudinot "a dirty old needle- 
book, with various small pockets in it." Surprised, the colonel 
told her to go away and come back for an answer later. So far 
as is known, he never saw her again. 

It strains credulity to suppose that two patriotic American 
ladies were wandering about wintry roads outside Philadelphia 
at the same time, both with the same important military intelli- 
gence and both babbling about flour, unless there was some 
connection between them. Since Lydia Darragh's time was get- 
ting short, it is possible that she put a written message in the 
needlebook and sent it on by some other woman, possibly from 
the house where Craig left her to get food. It was now the end 
of the morning. The sooner she was back in Philadelphia, the 
fewer questions would be asked. Besides, Friend Lydia had a 
reputation for neatness. "A dirty old needlebook" simply could 
not come from the Darragh household, but it might easily come 
from a wayside farm. 

Eagerly, Boudinot examined it: "I could not find anything 
till I got to the last pocket, where I found a piece of paper 
rolled up into the form of a pipe shank. On unrolling it I 
found information that General Howe was coming out the next 


morning with 5000 men, 13 pieces of cannon, baggage wagons, 
and ii boats on wheels" the latter being pontoon bridge 
equipment. This agreed in the main with other information, 
though the strength estimate may have been wrong. The pon- 
toons suggested a river crossing, and the Delaware and Schuyl- 
kill were the only rivers the enemy could possibly cross. There 
was no reason to cross the Schuylkill, though one spy reported 
they had done so. Crossing the Delaware would imply with- 
drawal to New York. 

Hurrying back to headquarters, Boudinot gave a report of 
the kind General Washington had ordered: "the naked facts 
without comment or opinion." Washington listened thought- 
fully. Boudinot went on to an interpretation of the enemy's 
intentions. He believed Howe would pretend he was retreat- 
ing to New York; would actually cross the Delaware eastward 
into New Jersey; would cross westward into Pennsylvania once 
more, somewhere above Bristol, Pennsylvania; and would then 
crash into the American's unguarded rear "and cut off all our 
baggage, if not the whole army." This, of course, was about 
what Captain Charles Craig had reported. 

The tall man in blue and buff, with the three silver stars 
upon his shoulder, had thus far had nothing to say. He had 
listened "without a single observation, being deep in thought." 
Boudinot gave his opinion all over again. Still his commander 
remained silent. Boudinot, thinking his ideas "unattended to," 
repeated them again, urging him to strengthen the rear, at once, 
as there was not much time. 

Washington at last roused himself. In complete disagree- 
ment with his intelligence officer, he proceeded to estimate the 
situation withas events proved almost absolute correctness: 
"The Enemy have no Business in our Rear, the Boats are de- 
signed to deceive us." The British would attack a flank. "To 
morrow Morning by day light you will find them coming down 
such a bye road on our left." Calling an aide, he ordered the 
lines strengthened in front, not rear. 

Boudinot departed, silently fuming, for he "thought the 
General under a manifest mistake." The colonel would not be 
the last G-s to resent his commander's curt rejection of a care- 

Spies in the Quaker City si 9 

fully thought-out "appreciation." Glumly, he told the handful 
of officers quartered near him that the general was all wrong 
and the army was sure to lose its baggage train next morning. 

Still, he was about to go to sleep a mile ahead of the Ameri- 
can lines, on the very road down which General Washington 
said the enemy would come that night. Suppose the old man 
was right, after all! Conceding the chance that George Wash- 
ington might know what he was talking about, Colonel Boudi- 
not advanced a picket down the road, kept all horses saddled, 
and gave orders to have the officers' mounts at the door at the 
first alarm gun. 

At three o'clock in the morning, there was a crash of many 
alarm guns. Along the route George Washington had predicted 
they would use, the British were coming! Boudinot and the 
others rode for their lives. By dawn, the redcoats occupied the 
quarters where the skeptical intelligence specialist had been 
sleeping. Boudinot was rueful: "I then said that I never would 
again set up my judgment against his/' 

The British had moved out of Philadelphia at eleven o'clock 
on the night of December 4, probably with a good many more 
men than the five thousand Lydia Darragh had reported. They 
kept wagons and field artillery rolling through Philadelphia all 
night, in the wrong direction, as if they were heading for the 
Schuylkill River; but Major Allan McLane was not deceived: 
"Every intelligence from the city agrees the enemy is in motion 
and intend a grand stroke." Before daybreak on the fifth, the 
advanced guard had halted on a ridge beyond Chestnut Hill, 
about three miles from the American right flank not the left, 
as Washington had anticipated. This was his only error; and, 
after all, the British soon did shift to the left flank; and the 
only fighting took place there. 

The Americans, forewarned, had been busy for some time, 
strengthening their positions. The enemy's main body came up 
about seven o'clock and deployed for action, with a reserve in 
position to the rear. It was evident that the surprise had failed. 
McLane's cavalry had found their column as it cleared German- 
town and had harassed the last stage of the advance. The Con- 
tinental Army was deployed, entrenched and waiting. 


The two armies sat glaring at each other all day. The British 
lay on their arms that night. Most of the next day (December 
6) was without event. Late in the afternoon, the redcoats disap- 
peared in the direction of Germantown. It looked as if they 
were going back to Philadelphia. It was meant to look that 
way; but no one was deceived; and the Americans were still 
ready when, on December 7, the scarlet uniforms suddenly ap- 
peared on the American left, where Washington had originally 
expected them. 

General Washington made the rounds of his brigades, ex- 
tolling the virtues of the bayonet. The British reconnoitered, 
but could find no soft spots; and Howe, who had led his troops 
to slaughter at Bunker Hill, knew better now than to try a 
frontal assault on entrenched Americans. General "No Flint" 
Grey had a brush with Morgan's and Gist's riflemen, which cost 
a hundred British lives. Otherwise, the two forces merely 
looked at each other all day long. Again the British lay on 
their arms all night. Nothing whatever happened on the morn- 
ing of the eighth. About noon, General Howe gave up. The 
British Army marched back to Philadelphia, "like a parcel of 
damned fools/' said one of its disgusted officers. It was a mag- 
nificent example of what a few really good spies and some wide- 
awake cavalry can accomplish. 

The Whitemarsh fiasco greatly discouraged the enemy both 
in Philadelphia and in London. Cornwallis, who left Philadel- 
phia for a brief leave in England, reported on Whitemarsh in 
London the next month, adding that the conquest of America 
was impossible a bit of news which an American secret agent in 
London was reporting to Benjamin Franklin at Passy by Jan- 
uary 20, 1778. 

To British headquarters it was painfully apparent that there 
had been a leak somewhere. An impressive figure in scarlet 
and gold, topped with a serious face, summoned Lydia Dar- 
ragh, demure in Quaker gray, to the conference room. It is 
probable the officer came as soon as the redcoats were safely 
back in barracks that night. The frightened Quakeress used 
to tell her family afterward that, but for the darkness, he would 
have guessed what she had done, because she was so pale. 

Spies in the Quaker City 221 

The solemn-looking man in the brilliant uniform locked the 
door behind him. Had any of the Darragh family been awake 
on the night the officers had met? 

"No, they were all in bed and asleep." 

"I need not ask you/* said this gullible sleuth, "for we had 
great difficulty in waking you to fasten the door after us. But 
one thing is certain; the enemy had notice of our coming/* 

Mrs. Darragh used to recall with a certain satisfaction that 
she "never told a lie about it. I could answer all his questions 
without that.*' The "inner light" of the Quakers is a wonder- 
ful guide in life. 


* * * 


General Washington's Manhattan Project 

As THE WINTER of 1777-1778 wore on toward spring, it became 
increasingly important for General Washington to learn what 
Sir Henry Clinton's army, in New York, and Sir William 
Howe's army, in Philadelphia, were going to do. Just as this 
problem was about to become crucial, came a minor disaster. 
Late in January, 1778, some suspicious patriot, with the very 
best intentions, very nearly destroyed Colonel Elias Dayton's 
intelligence system, working between Staten Island and New 
Jersey, Dayton's two star secret agents, John and Baker Hen- 
dricks, and one of his soldiers, John Meeker, were suddenly ar- 
rested on charges of "illegal Correspondence with the Enemy/' 

It was all very embarrassing. Of course, the three men ar- 
rested really had been doing exactly what they were charged 
with doing; but it would ruin everything to admit in public 
that it was on General Washington's orders. Like the stout 
fellows they were, the three spies stood heroically silentfor 
they knew that, at all costs, the secrecy of Dayton's intelligence 
network must be protected while the country they served pre- 
pared to hang them. 

To save his men, Colonel Dayton appealed directly to the 
general, who wrote privately to Governor William Livingston, 


General Washington's Manhattan Project 

of New Jersey. The three spies, Washington pointed out, 
would have to "bear the suspicion of being thought inimical, 
and it is not in their powers to assert their innocence, because 
that would get abroad and destroy the confidence which the 
Enemy puts in them." But realism could be carried too far. 
The Continental Army could not possibly be allowed to hang 
its own secret agents. Would the governor please do some- 

Governor Livingston did do something, though whatever he 
did was perhaps wisely never recorded. Two weeks later, 
General Washington, in cautious language, was thanking him 
for "measures adopted/' It looks very much as if the three 
spies just "escaped" and went right back to work; but, what- 
ever happened, by February, 1778, the most important spy net 
General Washington as yet possessed in New York was again 
able to function. Three years later, the Hendricks brothers 
and probably Meeker, as wellwere still in Dayton's network, 
still unsuspected by the enemy, and still supplying important 

The three spies were released none too soon, for things were 
happening in Philadelphia. General Sir William Howe had 
failed and knew it. In disgust, he had already resigned his com- 
mand; resigned, too, his mistress, the golden-haired Mrs. Lor- 
ing, and soon sailed back to England, where he was presently 
busy defending his conduct of the war before a critical Parlia- 
ment. On May 11, 1778, General Howe had announced his 
return home. On May 13 (perhaps earlier), General Washing- 
ton knew that Clinton was the enemy's new commander. 

The American commander's main problem now was to find 
out what his new opponent meant to do. All reports indicated 
that Clinton would evacuate Philadelphia. If he did evacuate, 
the British would have three capabilities: (a) They might give 
up the thirteen colonies entirely, since France and Spain were 
hostile. In that case, they would try to save only their West 
Indian colonies, (b) They might go to New York by sea. (c) 
They might march across New Jersey. 

By ostentatiously improving the Philadelphia fortifications, 
the enemy tried, for a little while, to trick General Washington 


into believing that they meant to stay there, after all. But the 
shrewd Virginian guessed at once that all this sudden construc- 
tion was "merely calculated to deceive." He did not have to 
read the diary of the British chief engineer, which, a hundred 
and four years later, was published, proving that once again 
George Washington had been absolutely right and that all this 
ostentatious fortification was meant "to make appearance only." 

For a little while, General Washington rather hoped the en- 
emy really did intend "generally abandoning the Territories of 
the United States," until various essential elements of informa- 
tion all began to point to a withdrawal to New York. At the 
end of May, a huge fleet of a hundred sail started for that city. 
A spy in Chester, Pennsylvania, watched it go; and Allan Mc- 
Lane's cavalry rode near enough to see that the Philadelphia 
port was almost empty. Reports from New York began to 
show preparations for quartering more troops there. Spies and 
coast watchers reported that the fleet had actually arrived, but 
brought no army with it. 

During the month of May, General Washington had told 
General Greene to send an "intelligent and confidential per- 
son" into New York, to see "what passes there." General Gates 
also received orders to send in "one or two Intelligent persons." 
If the enemy was preparing quarters for additional troops, Sir 
Henry Clinton really did mean to return to Manhattan. 

Meantime a vigilant watch was kept on the redcoats still in 
Philadelphia. While spies carefully observed them within the 
city, Lafayette moved his troops forward to Barren Hill, eleven 
miles to the north, in the hope of discovering their "motions 
and designs." It was a risky move, and only the vigilance of one 
of Allan McLane's secret agents saved the young Frenchman 
from capture and his troops from slaughter. Sir William Howe, 
still in command, promptly sent overwhelming forces to sur- 
round "the boy" feeling so sure of success that he invited 
friends to meet the Marquis de Lafayette, a prisoner, at dinner 
that night! Lafayette's militia and fifty pro-American Iroquois 
Indians failed to detect the enemy's approach; but, at the last 
moment, his spy in Philadelphia informed McLane, who 
warned Lafayette in time for him to get away. 

General Washington's Manhattan Project 225 

Where Lafayette's reconnoissance had failed to get Informa- 
tion, the Philadelphia spies succeeded. By May 25, they had 
supplied General Washington with correct intelligence; but, 
two days later, even though it was now clear that the enemy 
were "bound to New York/' he wanted more detailed informa- 
tion. "The Grand fact of the enemy's design to evacuate the 
City being ascertained," he wanted to know when they would 
start and which route they would follow. The general still did 
not know whether they would go by land or sea, or what they 
might do before they started. 

The enemy were capable of making an attack on the Conti- 
nental Army before leaving Philadelphia; of making a mere 
rendezvous in New York and then moving elsewhere; of attack- 
ing along the Hudson, supported by redcoats issuing from Man- 

Three days later, General Washington felt certain there 
would be a move through New Jersey. He was right. The en- 
emy's industry in collecting flat-bottomed boats, horses and 
wagons showed that they would cross the Delaware River and 
go by land. Within three weeks, Clinton was doing exactly 
what American intelligence had predicted. 

Because it possessed all this advance intelligence, the Conti- 
nental Army was ready to pursue the redcoats across New Jer- 
sey when the time came. A warning order, May 16, announced 
the probability that the Americans would soon be making a 
"sudden and rapid movement/' and everyone could guess what 
that movement would be. Boats, arms and ammunition were 
ordered up. Supply dumps of forage were laid clear across 
New Jersey. 

Though the Philadelphia spies were slow in reporting the 
first British march when it began, Major Allan McLane was 
entirely alert. A few British troops and all the horses crossed 
the Delaware June 14 and 15. The spies failed to note it, but 
McLane sent word on the fourteenth that the enemy was pre- 
paring to evacuate. When more British troops crossed on the 
seventeenth, it seemed clear McLane was right. But General 
Washington had no word that the enemy was actually march- 


ing away, until Philadelphia had been wholly evacuated on 
the eighteenth. 

On that day, last-minute news of the evacuation reached Val- 
ley Forge, twenty miles away, at exactly "i/ after 11 A.M." 
The moment can be fixed because General Washington re- 
ported immediately to Congress, giving both day and hour: "I 
was this minute advised by Mr. Roberts, that the Enemy 
evacuated the City early this morning/' George Roberts had 
been at the Middle Ferry, across the Delaware from the city, 
that morning. He could not get over the river because the 
bridge had been destroyed; but people on the other side yelled 
the news across too late. 

Clinton had marched his army out of Philadelphia on the 
night of June 17/18 and his entire force was across the river 
by ten o'clock on June 18. Sir Henry himself had spent the 
early morning hours sitting on a rock, ready to take personal 
command against an American attack that never came. Major 
Clark was gone, Lydia Darragh was silent. The Continental 
Army's intelligence service had blundered, and the spies' fail- 
ure gave General Washington no chance to catch the enemy 
with his forces divided by the Delaware River. Clinton stood 
off the Americans at Monmouth on June 28, 1778, reached New 
York in safety, and settled down to hold it. 

Espionage on Manhattan and Long Island now became more 
important for the Americans than ever. Colonel Elias Dayton's 
spies had long been operating in New York, and Nathaniel 
Sackett's network was probably still there, though no one really 
knows what became of it. Since, however, more intelligence 
was now needed, General Charles Scott about this time began 
setting up still another intelligence service, covering Long Is- 
land and New York City with a small group of resident secret 
agents who never left the islands, but sent out information 
through a regular system of secret couriers. At the same time, 
Major Alexander Clough, grd Continental Dragoons, had se- 
cret agents operating in New Jersey, perhaps under Scott's or- 
ders. In August, 1778, the general asked Clough to find "some 
intelligent person" to memorize a list of questions, go into New 
York without incriminating papers, and get this badly needed 

General Washington's Manhattan Project 227 

information, posing as an illicit trader. Almost at once, Cap- 
tain Eli Leavenworth, 6th Connecticut, began espionage on 
Long Island for Scott; and after Washington sent the general 
twenty-five guineas, September 6, 1778, "to enable him to en- 
gage some of the Inhabitans betw* him and the Enemy to 
watch their Movements & apprize him of them to prevent sur- 
prises," he soon had "two very good men" in New York City 
itself. Three disguised American officers went in as spies in 
October, and at the same time Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 
2nd Connecticut Dragoons, began to take a hand in secret in- 

Toward the end of the year, Tallmadge, using the pseudo- 
nym, John Bolton replaced Scott, though Tallmadge himself 
says only, "This year [1778] I opened a private correspondence 
with some persons in New York which lasted through the war." 
To the end of his days, he never revealed their names; nor did 
he ever state the exact date when he began service in military 
intelligence. But a surviving letter shows him deep in the 
enemy's secrets by September 3, 1778. 

As the major eventually organized it, the Manhattan project 
was a model of its kind, giving abundant information, accurate, 
detailed and valuable, in absolute secrecy and without detec- 
tion. The Americans even kept a horse for the spies* use be- 
hind the British lines, for which General Washington paid the 
bills. Samuel Woodhull, of Setauket, Long Island, and Robert 
Townsend, of New York City, were the principal agents. Wood- 
hull's code name was "Culper, Sr.," Townsend's was "Culper, 
Jr." WoodhulFs main task was receiving and transmitting 
Townsend's intelligence; but he sometimes directly observed 
British headquarters, personnel, troops, supplies and fortifica- 
tions on Long Island, besides reporting what he could see in 
New York City, on occasional visits of which, for excellent 
reasons, he made as few as possible, never more frequent than 
would seem completely natural. 

His colleague, Robert Townsend, had three advantages in 
espionage. He was a merchant, making frequent deliveries of 
goods on Long Island, so that communication with Woodhull 
was natural and easy. Then, too, his father lived at Oyster Bay, 


so that he could himself visit Long Island without rousing sus- 
picion. Townsend was also an amateur dabbler in journalism, 
careful to write news with a violently Tory slant for the New 
York Gazette, published by the notorious Tory printer, James 
Rivington. Documents revealed in 1959 proved (what had long 
been suspected) that Rivington was another American secret 
agent. His greatest achievement was the theft of the British 
Navy's entire signal book, which American headquarters passed 
on to Admiral de Grasse. 

As Rivington's reporter, it was natural for Townsend to fre- 
quent the coffeehouse that the Tory publisher operated, partly 
as a profitable side line, partly as a useful place to gather news. 
In the relaxing social life of the coffeehouse, in the unimpeach- 
ably royalist atmosphere that Rivington maintained, in conver- 
sation with the Tory's own newswriter, it was natural that the 
king's officers should talk freely. 

If Woodhull happened to visit New York when intelligence 
was ready, Townsend gave it to him orally, to be written down 
later, in the relative safety of Setauket. Otherwise, Townsend 
turned his reports over to a courier, usually Austin Roe, who 
made the fifty-mile ride to Setauket ostensibly with merchan- 
dise. As a precaution, the courier did not visit WoodhulFs 
house, but left the messages in a box, buried in an open field. 

In due course, Lieutenant Caleb Brewster, a veteran of the 
whaling trade, crossed Long Island Sound with a specially 
picked crew of local men, received the reports from Woodhull, 
and returned to Connecticut, where Major Tallmadge had 
dragoons ready to ride with them to Washington's headquarters, 
though some reports went through Israel Putnam's hands. 

These reports were dealt with by the commander-in-chief, 
personally. Captain Alexander Hamilton is the only staff officer 
known to have handled them; and it is doubtful that even he 
knew anything except the self-evident fact that they came from 
secret agents in direct contact with the enemy. Though Wash- 
ington once expressed a desire to meet one of the Culpers, to 
give personal instructions, he withdrew the request at once, 
when he understood the danger this involved. 

At first the Culper reports were submitted in ordinary ink, 

General Washington's Manhattan Project 229 

uncoded and unciphered. The handwriting of Culper, Jr., be- 
trayed him in the end (after 150 years), when the late Morton 
W. Pennypacker was able to show its identity with that of one 
set of intelligence reports an identification confirmed by the 
distinguished specialist on questioned documents, Andrew S. 
Osborn. Culper, Jr., made one more mistake: He used the 
same paper for his secret reports that he used in ordinary corre- 
spondencethough his error did no harm, since the British 
never noticed it. (Neither, until a few years ago, did anybody 

Though at first the Culpers worked in perpetual dread lest 
captured messages reveal what they were doing, their problem 
was soon solved by John Jay's brother, Sir James Jay, who, as 
a practicing physician in England, had become interested in a 
writing fluid variously known as "white," "sympathetic," "in- 
visible" and "secret" ink, and to the Culpers as "stain." As a 
physician, Sir James knew enough chemistry to make some for 
himself, after a good deal of experiment. "If one writes on the 
whitest paper/' Sir James reported triumphantly, "the letters 
immediately become invisible" to become legible once more 
only if brushed with his "sympathetic" developer. 

This, Sir James realized, as the American Revolution drew 
nearer, might be more than "a matter of mere curiosity and 
entertainment." He knew his ink was good; but he and his 
brother, John Jay, had been using it privately for five or six years 
before they realized how valuable it would be to the army. 
General Washington mentions it first in a letter to Tallmadge, 
April 30, 1779. Three days later, though the general still had 
none of the magic fluid, he wrote Colonel Dayton: "It is in my 
power, I believe, to procure a liquid which nothing but a coun- 
ter liquor (rubbed over the paper afterwards) can make legible. 
Fire which will bring lime juice, Milk and other things of 
this kind to light, has no effect on it. A letter upon trivial 
matters of business, written in common Ink, may be fitted with 
important intelligence which cannot be discovered without 
the counter part, or liquid here mentioned." The Culpers were 
using the secret ink by the end of May, but it was a one-way 


correspondence, for, as a precaution, the developer was never 
sent to any of the spies. 

At first Culper, Jr., simply sent an apparently blank sheet of 
paper; but, if such a message was ever intercepted, the enemy 
would at once become suspicious, especially after a letter in 
ordinary ink, referring to the invisible ink, was captured, in 
June. It might not be difficult for the British to develop it, 
since Sir Henry Clinton had two secret inks of his own one 
developed by heat, the other by "acid." To avoid this, General 
Washington suggested that Culper, Jr., ' 'should occasionally 
write his information on the blank leaves of a pamphlet; on the 
first second &c. pages of a common pocket book; on the blank 
leaves at such [each?] end of registers almanacks or any new 
publication or book of small value. He should be determined 
in the choice of these books principally by the goodness of the 
blank paper, as the ink is not easily legible, unless it is on paper 
of a good quality. Having settled a plan of this kind with his 
friend, he may forward them without risque of search or scru- 
tiny of the enemy as this is chiefly directed against paper made 
up in the form of letters." 

When Culper, Jr., persisted in using blank paper during the 
next few months, the commander-in-chief made another sug- 
gestion. The blank paper, he said, * 'alone is sufficient to raise 
suspicion; a much better way is to write a letter a little in the 
Tory stile, with some mixture of family matters and between 
the lines and on the remaining part of the Sheet communicate 
with the stain the intended intelligence/' 

The Culpers themselves hit upon a third method of insuring 
secrecy. It was natural for Culper, Jr., as a merchant, to be 
sending packages of blank paper, amid other merchandise, to his 
Long Island customers. In some of these he wrote an invisible 
message on one blank sheet, which was then inserted among 
the other sheets. No matter to whom such parcels were ostensi- 
bly addressed, they went to Culper, Sr., who had previously 
been given a number, perhaps 25. He then counted through 
the sheets till he reached sheet 25, which he sent on to Tall- 
madge, still blank. 

Eventually, Townsend hit upon the idea of writing short 

General Washington's Manhattan Project 231 

business letters to notorious loyalists and filling the rest of the 
page with "stain." If these were intercepted, nothing would 
appear suspicious in a well-known businessman's business letter 
to an equally well-known Tory customer. The courier simply 
had to be careful that the letters never reached their ostensible 

In 1779, Tallmadge added both cipher and code to the pre- 
cautions already protecting his secret papers. The cipher was 
of the ordinary substitution type, such as Doctor Church had 
used. But secret ink and cipher were not Townsend's sole reli- 
ance. He also made a small dictionary in numbered code, 
though he was foolish enough to number the words in their 
alphabetical order, with very little variation: they,, 629; there j 
630; thing, 631; though, 632; time, 633; to, 634; troops, 635; 
and so forth. This meant that words in "a" had low numbers; 
"advice" was 15, Words toward the end of the alphabet had 
high numbers, "zeal" being 710. This might have made possi- 
ble the breaking of the code, but fortunately that never hap- 
pened. Important places and individuals had separate numbers. 
Washington was 711; Tallmadge was 721; Culper, Sr. (Wood- 
hull) 722; Culper, Jr. (Townsend) 723; New York, 727; Long 
Island, 728; Setauket, 729. 

Tallmadge made three code booksone for himself, one for 
Culper, Jr., and one for General Washington. There may have 
been a fourth for Culper, Sr.; but there were no other copies, 
for the books were dangerous objects, mere possession of which 
was enough to convict any spy caught with one. 

The Culpers had several narrow escapes from discovery, one 
of which ended in pure comedy, though the others were serious 
enough. The British soon discovered that there was a leak 
somewhere perhaps because their own counterespionage was 
active; perhaps because they so often found General Washing- 
ton preternaturally well-informed. Once Culper, Sr., stopped 
and searched at the Brooklyn Ferry, was told, in so many words, 
that "some villain" was sending information to the rebels. 
Never guessing that they had one of the two leading "villains" 
in their hands at that very instant, the British control post 
searched Woodhull, failed to detect the reports of Culper, Jr., 


which he was carrying, and unconsciously passed both spy and 
intelligence on to General Washington. 

Just after he had begun to use Jay's secret ink, a serio-comic 
incident gave Culper, Sr., his worst fright of the war. He was 
writing with it in his room, nervously aware that there were 
"several [British] Officers quarter'd in the next Chamber/' Sud- 
denly his door burst open and two people rushed in. Leaping 
to his feet in terror, Woodhull snatched at his papers, upset his 
table, spilled the priceless fluid, and whirled about, a man at 
bay to be confronted by two playful women who meant to sur- 
prise him. They never guessed how much they did surprise 

Once, Culper, Sr., riding from the city to his home in Se- 
tauket, was held up by four bandits and searched. As he had 
only a dollar in cash, they let him go without guessing that he 
had secret papers inside his saddle. The highwaymen may have 
been ordinary criminals, taking advantage of the disorder of 
the times; but, if they had found the papers, they could have 
taken them to Clinton, certain of reward for having exposed a 
spy. Twice British foragers near his home terrified the devoted 
agent. "Their coming was like death to me," he wrote in No- 
vember of '79. But he added sturdily: "Have no fears about me 
and soon intend to visit N.Y." Once his home was raided, but 
the spy himself was away and the raid was not repeated. 

More serious was a British raid on an outpost of the 2nd 
Light Dragoons, near Pound Ridge Church, New York, which 
was near the Connecticut border. Culper, Sr., had already sent 
warning of "the prospect of their making excursions into Con- 
necticut very soon," adding: "You must keep a very good look 
out"; but the warning did not come in time, and the dragoons 
were completely surprised. There was a brisk clashing of cav- 
alry sabers before the Americans were able to get away. 

Tallmadge had been careless enough to keep, at this danger- 
ously advanced post, some money General Washington had sent 
him for the Culpers and worse still secret papers, which in- 
cluded a letter from the general himself in which he had been 
careless enough to give the real name and address of one George 
Higday, in New York. Either Higday was already an American 

General Washington's Manhattan Project 233 

agent or the general, who had interviewed him, hoped he would 
soon become one. Lord Rawdon's troopers captured the money 
and the papers; but they did not get Tallmadge's code book or 
any specimens of Jay's invisible ink; and Higday, though ar- 
rested, apparently was not hanged. 

The general rebuked the major in terms which, considering 
the magnitude of his blunder, were mild indeed: "The loss of 
your papers was certainly a most unlucky accident and shews 
how dangerous it is to keep papers of any consequence at an 
advanced post. I beg you will take care to guard against the 
like in future." But he offered to "replace the guineas." 

Capture of the papers enabled the British intelligence service 
to learn some dangerous things. They now knew that the 
Americans had a secret ink, for Washington had written: 

"When I can procure more of the Liquid C r writes for, it 

shall be sent." They knew that spies* reports might in future 
be forwarded "by Way of Bergen." They knew the name of 
one possible spy and the initials used for two more; but Hig- 
day's was the only name, and there was no clue to the identities 

of "S C " or "C r"; while, unless they could lay hands 

on some documents written in the secret ink, it was no great 
help to know the rebels were using it. 

Communication remained a perpetual problem for the Amer- 
ican spies on Manhattan. General Washington sometimes re- 
ceived the Culpers' intelligence too late for it to be useful. One 
effort to shorten the line, by reporting directly across the Hud- 
son, failed so badly that the route was never used again. Culper, 
Jr., had persuaded his cousin, James Townsend, to carry a 
secret-ink message over the river, through British sentries and 
"guard boats* ' and no small peril from American sentries on 
the other side. On the evening of March 22, 1780, James made 
the mistake of pausing at a farm called Soldier's Fortune, owned 
by an ardently patriotic farmer whose nephew, John Deauson- 
bury, was equally patriotic and much more suspicious. Both 
Townsend and his hosts mistook each other for Tories, and the 
courier thought it wise to give the impression that he was 
"something in Liquor." Convinced that the stranger was an 
"enimical person," the family retired, leaving the secret courier 


to the feminine wiles of the two young daughters of the house, 
"who undertook to examine Townsend, pretending they were 
Friends to Brittain." Meantime, John Deausonbury hid where 
he could hear Townsend's conversation with these amateur 

Feeling sure that he was among Tories, Culper's messenger 
boasted to the artful maidens about his services to the crown, 
explaining that his present errand was to collect men to join 
the enemy, "when they came up the River." Encouraged by 
the two patriotic minxes who were certainly shivering with 
delightful excitement as they entertained this peculiar caller 
Townsend boasted how often he had crossed and recrossed to the 
enemy and how he had sent to the British ranks "many a good 
fellow." All this was pure fiction Townsend had not been off 
Manhattan and Long Island for months. Outside the room, the 
eavesdropping Deausonbury swelled with indignation. "This 
and no more Deponent heard, for his Spirits rose." He rushed 
into the room "upon Townsend" and, as a patriotic American, 
made an important American secret courier his prisoner. What 
the two colonial Delilahs said, as their cousin captured their 
"date," has never been recorded. 

Deausonbury, with the very best intentions, had amazingly 
complicated the American intelligence service. 

The supposed Tory was searched. Since he might be a spy- 
he was! everything found on him was sent to headquarters. 
The "find" was not very impressive, for Culper, Jr., had been 
using Sir James Jay's stain. Presently, General Washington 
was examining twenty lines of verse entitled The Lady's Dress. 
It was, from a poetic standpoint, pretty bad; but the com- 
mander-in<hief was not concerned with literary criticism. The 
twenty lines, very widely spaced, spread over two full pages. 
The paper had been folded up small sixteen times. The thing 
looked queer and General Washington could guess why. He 
got out his bottle of the sympathetic developer, and the in- 
telligence from Culper, Jr., at once appeared. 

The general had a dreadful time getting James Townsend 
back to New York without exposing the Culpers. After that, 
they used the old transmission belt, no matter how slow it was. 

General Washington's Manhattan Project 235 

Culper, Jr., had been living in terror till his cousin reappeared, 

To analyze all the military intelligence these courageous men 
sent would occupy a volume it has already occupied two; but 
some of their more important information deserves notice. On 
November 27, 1779, the net reported that the British had se- 
cured several reams of paper identical with that Congress was 
using to print American currency. The British were still coun- 
terfeiting. Presently the Culpers discovered that the counter- 
feit currency was being smuggled into Connecticut to help 
Tories pay their taxes, thus serving a double British purpose, 
by assisting the king's men financially and by further depressing 
the already collapsing American currency. 

The Culpers* most important achievement was thwarting 
Clinton's movement to forestall the arriving French at New- 
port. The British commander knew Rochambeau was coming. 
The quick and accurate British espionage service in Paris had 
almost certainly warned him; but, whether it had or not, Bene- 
dict Arnold had been able to supply word of the French move- 
ments well in advance. When at last the French fleet did land, 
the British secret courier bringing the news rode into New 
York City just a little way behind the Culpers' courier, Austin 
Roe. Rochambeau had reached Newport on July 10, 1779. 
Like all troops on disembarkation, the French were in a state 
of temporary confusion. As yet there had been no chance to 
arrange a war plan with the American staff. Lafayette did not 
even leave American headquarters to begin consultation with 
Rochambeau until July 17. 

Now was the time for the British to attack. 

On Manhattan Island, on July 20, 1779, Austin Roe waited 
while Robert Townsend completed his report, showing Clinton 
was starting to move troops. Never had a warning to General 
Washington been more urgent. Never had Culper, Jr., so 
feared discovery. The British were now stopping everyone who 
might possibly carry intelligence of their movements. Roe 
must appear completely harmless. 

The spy did not want to burden his courier with the usual 
letter, hidden in a ream of blank paper. If he carried one such 
package, he would have to carry others, since a single parcel 


would be suspicious. Many packages meant weight; weight 
meant delay; he dared not delay. 

Instead of sending a package, Culper, Jr., wrote a letter to a 
well-known Long Island Tory, Colonel Floyd, who, having re- 
cently been robbed, would naturally be making purchases: 
". . . the articles you want cannot be procured, as soon as they 
can will send them." That was a good safe message so long as 
Floyd never heard about it. Roe covered the fifty miles to 
Setauket in time to send word across Long Island Sound, that 
very evening. Meantime, Sir Henry Clinton's troops were be- 
ginning to move. 

Unluckily, General Washington was not at headquarters 
when this vital intelligence arrived. Captain Alexander Ham- 
ilton, who by this time knew all about the stain, developed the 
ink, and rushed a message after Lafayette, who could warn 
Rochambeau. Presently, back at Continental headquarters, 
General Washington considered matters. He knew the British 
were by this time embarking. His army was not strong enough 
for a successful attack on New York. But did he have to make 
a real attack? If Sir Henry could be made to think . . . 

It is said that General Washington managed to have some 
"secret" papers captured. They showed plainly that the Amer- 
icans meant to make an immediate offensive movement against 
Manhattan Island. The British troops hastily disembarked. In 
Newport, Rochambeau, entirely undisturbed, looked quietly 
after the French troops. When, a year later, Benedict Arnold 
fled to become a British brigadier, he expressed surprise at 
Clinton's "not having attacked the French upon their disem- 
barking at Rhode Island." There is a fine irony in this: Cul- 
per, Jr., whose timely intelligence had prevented the attack, 
was at that very moment near Arnold in New York, shaking 
in his shoes for fear the traitor knew of his espionage. "Ar- 
nold's flight seems to have frightened all my intelligencers out 
of their senses," said General Washington. 

By May, 1781, Rochambeau, whose own intelligence service 
had been "much imposed on, having been served with little 
more than common reports on Long Island," asked Tallmadge 
for help. Co-operation began at once, though Rochambeau's 

General Washington's Manhattan Project 237 

ability to pay spies in gold was not so advantageous as had been 
hoped. The American spies were afraid to be caught with 
French coins. 

To the end of the war, the Culpers' flow of information pro- 
ceededarrival and departure of British ships; British morale; 
British guesses about the peace; British losses in action; warn- 
ings against British agents in the American lines; maps and 
position sketches; exact location of individual units; quarter- 
master supplies; movements of British generals and other 
senior officers. Though less spectacular than some of the Cul- 
pers' other coups, it was this steady flow of accurate informa- 
tion that kept General Washington in touch at all times with 
what the enemy were doing. 

It was made possible by the intrepid Caleb Brewster and 
his Connecticut and Long Island crews, who ran several whale- 
boats back and forth across Long Island Sound, based on Pen- 
field's "tide mill," at Fairfield. The crews were mainly natives 
of Long Island or Connecticut, some of whom, like Joshua 
Davis, were withdrawn from the infantry for this special service. 
The name of one boatman besides Davis has been preserved a 
certain Jonathan Pinner, or Kinner. 

The romantic aspects of secret service were doubled for 
Joshua Davis, then in his early twenties, when he met eighteen- 
year-old Abigail Redfield in Fairfield and married her In the 
midst of his mysterious duties. The young wife, anxious and 
lonely during her husband's absences (which were probably no 
mystery to her), used to drop in at a neighbor's for comfort. 
The woman she visited explained, long after the war that 
"during this period s d Davis was absent a considerable part of 
his time under Capt Brewster and that his, Davis, wife com- 
plained of being lonesome/' Everyone in Fairfield seems to 
have known about Brewster and his "spy boat*'; but, though 
the British also soon knew what he was doing, they had no 
way of stopping him. 


More Manhattan Spies 

THE CuLpER^Sackett and Dayton nets were not the only em- 
ployers of American secret agents on Long Island and in New 
York City, for one catches tantalizing glimpses of other daring 
spies who came and went very much as they pleased. One of 
Clinton's intelligence reports, for April 14, 1781, noted with 
some irritation a masterpiece of rebel impudence: "A Rebell 
Major by the name of Davis comes from Connecticut to East 
Hampton Regularly once a Week where he generally stays 
two nights, and is supposed to Return with Intelligence from 
this City/' This bold spirit, clearly was the same "Major J. 
Daviss" who later almost secured advance information of the 
Arnold treason, and was probably Brewster's man, Joshua Da- 
vis. Whoever he may have been, the enemy never caught him, 
despite the nonchalant frequency of his visits behind their 

There was the mysterious "L.J.," who casually offered to 
get General Washington any information he wanted from Man- 
hattan: "Right five lines to le me now what it is you wish 
to now from the Brithes [British]/' There was the unidentified 
Smith, of Smithtown, Long Island, who, three hours before 
Tallmadge's raid on a Long Island Tory fort, crossed the Sound 


More Manhattan Spies 239 

to Connecticut with full Information of its weak points. The 
enemy found out what he had done, but too late. There was 
the less successful Francis Van Dyke, of whom nothing is 
known save that he attempted espionage in New York, col- 
lected three guineas, and vanished from the records. There 
was Mrs. Elizabeth Burgin, patriotic New York matron, who 
operated an escape line for American prisoners of war until 
1779, when, finding herself suspected, she fled to safety. 

The secret service records show Tallmadge, late in the war, 
receiving reports from half a dozen new spies, known only by 
initials then and now far beyond identification. He himself 
had at first no idea of the identity of "S.G.," one of the best 
of these agents, who was assuredly not "S.C.," or Samuel Cul- 
per, Sr. By May, 1781, however, he had met the spy. 

A former Tory officer, known only as "J.B.," began to submit 
intelligence in 1782, probably because he saw that independ- 
ence would soon be won and wished to curry favor with the 
victors. He is probably the "refugee" a frequent term for 
Tories who had joined the Britishwho, being on friendly 
terms with Sir Guy Carleton's aide, pumped him for informa- 
tion, then passed it on to Washington. 

Equally mysterious are several American spies, whose very 
code names are unknown, but of whose adventures, in or near 
New York one finds fascinating traces. Some of these may 
have been reporting, not to Washington, but to one of several 
American generals who were running separate intelligence serv- 
ices of their own, among them Robert Howe, Forman, Wayne, 
Stirling, Gates, Greene and Lafayette. General Alexander Mo- 
Dougall had a system covering the area around Morristown, 
New Jersey, in the latter part of 1776; and, as he was still 
active in military intelligence in 1779, he had time enough to 
extend it to Manhattan. 

Since many of these unknown agents were permanently sta- 
tioned in New York, they may have been employed directly 
by General Washington, who preferred spies "who live with 
the other side; whose local circumstances, without subjecting 
them to suspicions, give them an opportunity of making ob- 
servations." He had on Manhattan Island a number of such 


secret agents, who knew nothing of the Culpers and of whom 
the Culpers knew nothing. 

From one of these agents, close to Sir Henry Clinton's staff, 
came the warning, far in advance, of a scheme by the notorious 
Tory, Dr. John Connolly, to collect "Loyalist" refugees and 
attack Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), where he expected 
aid from "disaffected people in Western Pennsylvania." Gen- 
eral Washington, who knew all about the proposed attempt 
by April, 1781, warned General George Rogers Clark, in Ken- 
tucky, and Colonel Daniel Brodhead, at Fort Pitt, and the 
plan came to nothing. General Washington said only that 
the news reached him "thro' a good Channel." 

In May, 1781, when General Washington was worried about 
British preparations for an expedition by sea, two daring whale- 
boatmen made a secret crossing to Long Island to meet a 
"Person/* The spy had not risked being caught with a written 
report; and, as there was a Hessian post within two hundred 
yards of the house where the three met, no one dared strike 
a light and write out his intelligence there. But the mariners 
were able to bring it back to Pound Ridge in their heads and 
write out a report, when they reached safety there. 

One resident agent in New York whom General Washington 
valued highly, was the oddly named Hercules Mulligan. Alex- 
ander Hamilton, when he first came to New York a few years 
before the Revolution, had lived with the Mulligan family. 
As the need for information became pressing after the British 
occupation, Hamilton suggested Hercules as a secret agent. 
Mulligan stayed in New York, undetected and untroubled, 
throughout the war, as "confidential correspondent to the Com- 
mander-in-chief," and is credited with "most important military 
information," though there are no traces of it in the Washing- 
ton papers as they now exist. It is significant that General 
Washington's first breakfast in New York, after the British 
evacuation, was with Mulligan, whose son later remarked that 
his father had been in touch with an American agent on Long 
Island, perhaps Culper, Sr., perhaps Brewster, perhaps someone 
else. As late as 1780, Tallmadge himself was not sure what 

More Manhattan Spies 241 

Mulligan was doing and was asking Washington to give him 
at least "a hint of it." 

In spite of his preference for such resident agents, living 
where they spied, General Washington sometimes had to make 
use of spies who lived outside New York City and made their 
way in and out as occasion required. One of the most suc- 
cessful of these was Captain Elijah Hunter, of the snd New 
York Militia, assistant commissary of forage in Bedford, New 
York, who "retired" from the army December 7, 1776 prob- 
ably to undertake espionage for General Robert Howe. Dur- 
ing the winter of 1778-1779 he is supposed to have been spying 
for John Jay and had, by the early months of 1779, wormed his 
way into the complete confidence of Sir Henry Clinton and 
Governor William Tryon. 

A man who can only be Hunter, though he is mysteriously 
referred to as "the link to Sir Harry/' emerged from New York 
in late March, 1779, with a budget of useful military informa- 
tion. He had been "closeted" with Clinton and Tryon, who, 
thinking him a trustworthy Tory, encouraged him to leave 
the city, pose as a patriot, and spy on the Americans. Tryon 
asked him to engage in illicit trading, work into a position 
of trust, then visit both Philadelphia and Washington's head- 
quarters as a spy, and at the same time "to act apparently 
zealous for America not to shake the Confidence of his Coun- 
trymen." All this Hunter dutifully reported to General Alex- 
ander McDougall, who sent him on to visit both Philadelphia 
and Washington's headquarters. 

Though Hunter arrived at headquarters with a recommen- 
dation from that veteran spy catcher, John Jay, General Wash- 
ington did not at first trust him. Admitting that Hunter 
looked like "a sensible man capable of rendering important 
services, if he is sincerely disposed to do it," he nevertheless 
felt it was always "necessary to be very circumspect with 
double spies." Besides, although Hunter had turned over for 
examination a letter addressed to General Sir Frederick Haldi- 
mand, commanding in Canada, that did not prove his good 
faith in the eyes of the American commander, who thought 
the letter looked as if "intended to fall into our Hands" and 


suspected Hunter might be "as much in the interest of the 
enemy as in ours." 

Though Washington remained skeptical until August, 
Hunter soon turned in enough information to prove his good 
faith, and by early September the commander-in-chief "had 
not the smallest doubt of his attachment and integrity/' Hunter 
managed to steal a letter of the veteran British cavalry raider, 
Colonel Banastre Tarleton, which he sent to Washington to 
read and return evidently intending to replace it before its 
loss was discovered. He also supplied information about enemy 
troop dispositions and intended movements, with the assist- 
ance of a group of subagents, described by Washington as 

When, in May, 1779, Hunter asked for information of the 
American Army to be supplied to the British, Washington 
evidently gave him some and in August provided a correct 
report of the real American strength. He was careful to em- 
phasize that he could assemble boats for five thousand men 
in two hours news that would be certain to worry Clinton, 
as it indicated a prospective attack on New York. 

This time, except perhaps about the boats, General Wash- 
ington was telling the unvarnished truth, though only because 
he had "not the least objection to our real strength being 
known." But, however truthful the hero of the cherry tree 
was now being, he was also, on one point, thinking up decep- 
tion for his spy to impose on the enemy's intelligence officers. 
Question of the authenticity of the strength report was certain 
to arise. In that case, General Washington advised Hunter, 
"it will be well for you to inform [them] that you came by 
the knowledge of it from inquiry and from observations of 
the troops when under arms." He recommended one more 
little falsehood: "To give your account, the greater air of 
probability you may observe that the Officers are very incau- 
tious in speaking of the strength of their regiments." 

He also took the trouble to explain, in a personal interview 
with Hunter, just why the Continental Army now had more 
troops than when he had shown his spy earlier strength reports; 
and he obligingly provided the enemy with a correct list o 

More Manhattan Spies 243 

his four main supply dumps which he well knew were beyond 
their reach. 

Hunter, of course, could not very well tell the British that 
the meticulously accurate strength report he brought in was a 
free gift from the American command; and General Washing- 
ton seems to have felt that if any lying on that point was to 
be done, he was far better at it than anybody else. 

Compared with the Culpers and other resident agents, 
Hunter never supplied a great deal of information, since he 
had to avoid rousing suspicion by too frequent visits to New 
York. As Washington put it: "the business was of too delicate 
a nature for him to transact it frequently himself/' and the 
"Characters" who assisted him were rarely able to "gain any- 
thing satisfactory or material." 

Though never a really important secret agent, Hunter con- 
tinued to pull the wool over Sir Henry Clinton's eyes for two 
more years. In an undated note among British secret service 
papers for 1781, he coolly asks Sir Henry to provide an escort 
of redcoats for a little trip into Westchester County where he 
could report to Washington! In 1783, Washington gave him 
a certificate testifying to what he had done. 

Two spies named Moses and Abel Hatfield were believed 
by the Americans to be double spies whose real loyalty was to 
the British. Three times in January, 1780, Washington warned 
American officers against Moses Hatfield: "He is very capable 
of gaining intelligence if he pleases, but I fancy he carries as 
much as he brings." John Vanderhovan, the American agent 
working with the Hendricks brothers, flatly accused Abel Hat- 
field of deliberately planting false information and of betraying 
Colonel Matthias Ogden, active in American intelligence, to 
the enemy. One patriot spy had seen the Tory Brigadier 
Cortlandt Skinner instructing Abel Hatfield what to tell the 

Two American secret agents, John Cork and a man named 
Jackson, had the entire confidence of their superiors; but they 
were so shrouded in mystery that it is impossible to learn very 
much about them. Both worked for Tallmadge. Equally mys- 
terious is Swain Parcel, an American "deserter," who, though 


"captured" with British arms in his hands, suffered no penalty 
and received a post-war pension. 

Into this web of deceit, the Americans, late in 1779 or in 
the very first weeks of 1780, wove a new strand of double-dyed 
imposture. This was the handiwork of Captain David Gray, 
a Massachusetts Yankee, one of the most successful double 
agents in history, who first persuaded the enemy to take him 
into their secret service; and who then, for nearly two years, 
went in and out of New York whenever he wished, casually 
betraying Tories along the way and obligingly pausing in his 
errands for Sir Henry Clinton to keep General Washington 
informed of what Sir Henry was doing meantime giving the 
confiding British staff no American information whatever that 
could possibly be of any use. 

When the Revolution began, Gray had been a youth of 
nineteen, living in Lenox, Massachusetts. As a volunteer under 
Ethan Allen, he was at the taking of Ticonderoga. Returning 
to Lenox and enlisting for five months more, he was in the 
expedition against Canada, participating in the siege of St. 
John's, until discharged because of illness. In January of 1776, 
he was back in Lenox again, enlisting for another year, after 
which he was discharged at Saratoga and again enlisted. 

Transferred to the quartermasters, he was sent on supply 
missions to Lake George and into New Hampshire, where he 
discovered "a chain off tories that Reeacht from Canada to 
Rope ferry neear new lonon Corneticut." This discovery 
stirred his first interest in secret service. Ordered back from 
New Hampshire with dispatches, he visited Continental head- 
quarters, whence he was sent to Lieutenant Colonel William 
Ledyard, at New London. Overtaken by darkness, Gray "put 
up at an in five milds from New Lonnon," and here "fell into 
Cumpany with one Capt Beckit who was a Carrying on all 
inteligence and strength that he could a Cumolate to newyork." 

Extraordinary as it seems to find another member of the 
British staff running Andre's risks by traveling about in Amer- 
ican territory, this may have been Captain William Beckwith, 
the British intelligence officer who had handled part of the 
treason negotiations with Arnold and was later much concerned 

More Manhattan Spies 245 

with the attack by Arnold on New London. Gray may have 
gained the British officer's confidence by talking as if he were a 
member of the Tory network operating between Canada and 
New London. At any rate, the British captain whoever he 
was accepted the American captain as a genuine turncoat. 
Gray himself says: "i agreead with him to Carry me to long 
iland the next night in the morning i went to newlonnon and 
Delivared my mesage to Colo Ledgard [Ledyard] and the nex 
evaning went with sd Beckit to the iland and from there to 

The supposed deserter went at once to the Tory intelligence 
officer, Colonel Beverly Robinson, on whose lands Gray's father 
had once been a tenant, and then to a Tory named John Cane, 
in Brooklyn. Next day he met Cane and Robinson together. 
Gray says: "Cane went with me to Colo Robinson and informed 
him that i had had a Comishon in washingtons army and that 
i could Bee usefull in Conveying news to any part off a miracan 
[America] for the loyalists or goverment on sd Canes Recom- 
mending me to Colo Robinson he gave me five guinies and 
offered me a Commishon in the new livies But mr Cane and 
myself Allowed that i could Bee off more use to goverment 
in going through the states with inteligence." 

A few days later, the supposed turncoat received secret 
letters for Vermont Tories, delivered them promptly, and duti- 
fully returned with answers. Presently, he was sent, with more 
letters, to Vermont and New Hampshire. As soon as he was 
safely off the island, he opened a few of these official missives 
and, seeing that they would be useful to General Washington, 
"went amediately and gave them to him." 

According to Gray, "aftor he had Red them he Called me 
and asked Me how i Came By them i told him i had Been 
to new york and had got protexshon undor the British gover- 
ment and was likely to get inteligence to go to Calton [Carleton] 
inada [in Canada] he gave me the lettors And told me to 
delivar them to those they were dyreckted to i was furnished 
with an eligant hors and money By the ordar of his excelency 
and pass signed By his own hand to pass throug the states 
unmolested and to cross the Sound into the British loines when 


i saw cause." After that, Gray remained in the British secret 
service until 1782, in continual touch with American head- 

All this went on with General Washington's full knowledge. 
It was characteristic of his methods that he had Gray publicly 
and officially reported as a deserter on January 2, 1780, just 
about the time the British first sent him to Vermont. He had 
him again denounced this time on a special list of deserters- 
July 13, 1780. It is perfectly clear that Gray was never a gen- 
uine deserter, but the astute Washington wanted to give any 
possible British spies good reason to think he was. 

That Gray was still making similar secret journeys in 1781 
is shown by two references to him as a trusted British secret 
agent, in Sir Henry Clinton's intelligence papers. A document 
of May 25, 1781, shows that he had returned to New York on 
May 24, after leaving Vermont more than a fortnight earlier. 
He told British intelligence that a party of rebels had seized 
most of the documents he was carrying which may have been 
merely a convenient way of getting them into General Wash- 
ington's hands; but the British, swallowing his story, sent him 
immediately on a similar errand. On June 28, 1781, the British 
intelligence report notes again: "David Gray is Just come in 
from the State of Vermont." This time, he had traveled very 
slowly, taking two weeks for the journey and five days to get 
from Hartford, Connecticut, to New York. Part of this delay 
was due to espionage for the British along the way or so the 
British were allowed to think. Secret visits to General Wash- 
ington himself, were probably the real reason. 

Gray brought Sir Henry Clinton news that Ethan Allen was 
trying to "agree upon Terms" with the authorities in Canada; 
supplied information on American artillery and recruiting 
in Hartford; and also reported that General Washington 
"wanted men Enough to attack New York, to prevent the 
British sending men to the Southward." 

Most of this was probably pure deception. Ethan Allen did 
not join the British, though he sometimes was in illicit com- 
munication with Canada. As for the news about Washington's 
proposed attack on New York, though it seemed important 

More Manhattan Spies 247 

and was, at the moment, true, American headquarters probably 
allowed Gray to report It because Clinton was almost certain 
to have the same information from other sources. 

Delighted with the achievements of this apparently reliable 
agent, the Brooklyn Tory, Cane, now took Gray to Major 
Oliver DeLancey, who offered him seventy guineas to carry a 
message to Sir Guy Carleton, in Canada, paying sixteen guineas 
down and promising the rest on his return. This message 
was put "in a lump like a bullet so if i was taken i could swal- 
low it' 'the same foolish device that had cost the British secret 
courier, Taylor, his life in 1777. 

En route for Canada, Gray went down Long Island "to the 
Coverd place/* where he met a Tory captain named Robinson, 
"who had been on the Cometicut Shore A plundaring." When 
Robinson offered him transportation across Long Island Sound 
next day, the ungrateful American spy hunted up an American 
officer, "Cap* jones who was Concealed on the iland." From 
mysterious sources of his own, Jones mobilized twenty-three 
whaleboats and raided Robinson's camp at three o'clock in 
the morning, killing or wounding thirteen men and capturing 

Gray seems to have gone on to the Continental Army; for 
Sergeant Jeremiah Hull, who had been in the same regiment 
with him, remembered his entering the lines on a night in 
July, 1781, when Hull happened to be sergeant of the guard. 
The officer of the guard at first refused to let the spy through, 
whereupon Gray produced a pass from General Washington 
and his American captain's commission. Sergeant Hull does 
not say where this incident took place, but it was probably 
somewhere in Connecticut and not far from New London. 

By this time Gray was understandably "forteaged and wanted 
Rest;" but, instead of taking his messages on to Canada, he 
stopped at New London sometime in the first few days of 
September, 1781, and turned all the enemy's papers over to 
Lieutenant Colonel William Ledyard, who sent the documents 
on to Washington. Knowing that Benedict Arnold's force was 
already assembled at Huntington, Long Island, to raid New 
London, Gray warned Ledyard that "arnol lay in huntington 


harbor with a numbar off men and no dout if the wind Should 
Bee fair he would visit newlonnon Before morning the next 
morning." Sure enough, "gust as the Sun Rose the British 
was landing on Both Sides off the harbor/' 

The American captain now temporarily forgetting that he 
was also Sir Henry Clinton's secret courier took command of 
some American militia, stripped to his shirt, since the day 
was hot, and fought through the first part of the action at 
Fort Groton. So fierce was the combat that Arnold was on 
the point of withdrawing his men, when the Americans broke 
at last. Gray escaped without time to get his coat, which prob- 
ably contained his pass from Washington. He notes that when 
he "Rode out off the fort gate in good speead the front off 
the British was within twelve or fifteen Rods off me and the 
front Devishon fired at me But Overshot Me." He would have 
been in real trouble had the British captured their highly paid 
courier in action against them; or if they had found that coat 
and the papers in it. 

Gray was again weary. "Beein allmost exsted i Retired for 
Refreshment. . , ." and there his manuscript breaks off. Pre- 
sumably he got his dispatches back from Washington, and 
delivered them to Carleton. Major DeLancey had promised 
him seventy guineas and so far he had collected only sixteen. 

Nothing further, however, is really known of his exploits as 
a spy. He returned to the Continental Army, March 5, 1782, 
when he was again officially listed as having "joined." Prob- 
ably none of the British officers who employed him ever guessed 
how shamelessly they had been deceived. Gray must have 
seemed just one more spy who had disappeared as spies do. 

David Gray was not the only American captain who was 
lending a helping hand to the British intelligence service, with 
the delighted approval of General Washington. Captain Caleb 
Bruen, of Newark, had been an eager patriot from the begin- 
ning, serving as a second lieutenant of New Jersey minutemen 
in February, 1776, and rising to the captaincy of an "artificer" 
(ordnance) company by August. He had found it particularly 
annoying when, during an interval in this service, he was "shot 
at by the British while taking the cows to pasture." 

More Manhattan Spies 249 

After 1776, he disappears for a long time from American 
records and reappears eventually in Sir Henry Clinton's con- 
fidential papers as courier and spy, operating from his native 
New Jersey as far east as Rhode Island, bringing in the results 
of his own and other spies' observations in the field. He does 
not reappear in American records until 1783, when he is ar- 
rested for illicit trading with the enemy; on which occasion, 
it is significant, the officer arrested with him went before a 
court-martial, while Bruen silently disappears from the records. 
His service was to prove, if possible, more important than 
Gray's, during one of the crises of the Revolution, the mutiny 
of Pennsylvania troops. 

Though Sir Henry Clinton's exasperated intelligence officers 
were well aware of what was going on, they could not identify 
Gray, Bruen or any of the other well-hidden American agents. 
They discovered the Culper line of communication across Long 
Island Sound almost as soon as it began to operate; for a 
British officer prisoner, returning through Connecticut in 
August, 1778, had reported "a number of Whail Bts lying at 
Norwalk, which passes over almost every night to Long Island." 
But the discovery did little good, since there was no way of 
keeping the boats from slipping across the Sound. Not until 
more than a year had passed did two British agents, working 
independently of each other, discover that Caleb Brewster 
commanded the whaleboats carrying the spies' reports. Laying 
hands on Caleb was another matter. They never caught him. 

Brewster's opposite number in the British intelligence service 
was Nehemiah Marksson of a prominent merchant in Derby, 
Connecticut who had gone to New York almost as soon as 
the Revolution opened, to act as "despatch agent" for the 
British. From Long Island, he made regular secret crossings to 
Stamford and other Connecticut towns to spy and carry secret 
messages. He avoided his native Derby, where he was likely to 
be recognized, and where, until 1957, it was known only that 
he had "left town." 

In the latter part of 1780, Marks reported several times that 
a certain "Bruster" was running dispatches. On November 
26, 1780, the official British "State of Intelligence" report also 


noted: "There is one Brewster who has the direction of three 
Whale Boats that constantly come over from the Connecticut 
Shore once a Week for the purpose -of obtaining Intelligence 
They land at Draun Meadow Bay" just east of Setauket, in 
modern Port Jefferson. 

Presently, "Hiram the Spy" (William Heron, of Redding, 
Connecticut) was reporting on Brewster, independently of 
Marks. On February 4, 1781, he wrote Clinton's headquarters: 
"Private dispatches are frequently sent from your city to the 
Chieftain here by some traitors. They come by way of Setalket, 
where a certain Brewster receives them, at, or near a certain 

By December, 1780, Marks was exultant: "I have found 
ought wair Bruster holds a Correspondence of intiligince & 
how [who] Surplies him with Goods J Got my information 
from one that has a Commisson in the Rebels Servis for hee 
tels Mee that hee will due every thing to assist Mee to find 
ought thee peticler men that Send the intelegence from York 
fe hee has told mee how wee might take him if you think itt 
Best But J am a mind to find ought more of the Persons 
Conse[r]nd with him," 

Marks, in other words, wanted to play the old game of letting 
a partly exposed spy ring continue to operate, so as to learn 
more about it. He had already wormed his way so deeply into 
American secrets (perhaps through the treacherous American 
officer he describes) that he was soon able to give advance 
warning of an impending American attack and to list three 
American spies, otherwise unknown: "Nathanel Roe for in- 
telegence 8c Philip Roe at Round Medo for [black market] 
Goods Jeams Smith att a place Called old mans these are the 
villin that assist Brewster and J gave thee person 3 Ginues 
& promised if hee wood find ought the holl 8c inform Mee 
J wood Reward him well for itt hee promised hee wood this 
Must Be Cept a secret." As Austin Roe is known to have been 
in the Culper organization, Nathaniel and Philip Roe were 
probably his relatives, also in the Culper network, though 
nothing hitherto has been known about them. Round Meadow 

More Manhattan Spies 251 

and Old Man's are now within the village of Mount Sinai, about 
two miles from Port Jefferson, Long Island. 

In May, 1781, another returning British prisoner told in- 
terrogating British officers that the patriots had two gunboats 
and sixteen whaleboats, and that they visited Long Island al- 
most every night. 

The British learned at last how dispatches, brought from 
these boats, were carried through Connecticut; and on Sep- 
tember 4, 1781, Nehemiah Marks offered to land with British 
agents in Connecticut, lay an ambush along the road, capture 
the dragoon serving as courier, and seize the papers. He and 
John Marks, probably a relative, and two men named Smith 
and Lockwood, would "Gow & lie in the Cuntry & due thair 
Best indevore to inter Sept him or thair mails." 

Perhaps someone at headquarters decided the plan was too 
risky and forbade it. Perhaps Marks tried and failed. At any 
rate, he never intercepted the dispatches. 

A few weeks after this, in October, 1781, the British came 
still closer to the Gulpers' secret, when one of their spies, 
named Patrick Walker, took supper with Caleb Brewster in 
Fairfield, chatted with him, and heard plans for the American 
attack on Floyd's Neck. 

But there, in ignominious failure, the story of the British 
effort to detect the most dangerous of all patriot spy rings, 
ends. Walker had found the man who knew the facts. He 
had gotten him perhaps a little drunk to talking. He had 
learned a few patriot secrets. But on the essential facts on 
which the safety of the ring depended, Brewster drunk or 
sober was silent. The Culpers always knew their danger; but 
they never guessed how close the hangman's noose had dangled 
above their devoted heads that night. 


* * * 

The Exploits of Ann Bates 

SOON AFTER CLINTON returned to New York, his espionage 
service was strengthened by the addition of a woman agent 
unknown then and unknown ever since who may justly 
be described as the most successful female spy in history. 
Adroit, well-trained, intrepid, she penetrated the American 
lines again and again, made precise and accurate military ob- 
servations, walked calmly into General Washington's head- 
quarters, listened casually to official conversation there, marched 
with the general's own column, was captured twice, talked 
her way out of her difficulties, and then went cheerfully ahead 
with her espionage. Recognized at last by a British deserter, 
she escaped American pursuit and again went back to espionage 
though in a safer area. 

This was Mrs. Ann Bates, or Beats, who had been a Philadel- 
phia schoolteacher, earning 30 a year and eking out that 
scanty income by keeping bees, running a little store, and 
raising a few sheep. There is nothing to indicate that she 
ever did any espionage for the British in Philadelphia; but 
in some way John Gregge, or Craigie, a civilian active in 
British intelligence, recognized her quality. Since she had 
married Joseph Bates, an "armourer" (i.e., ordnance repair- 


The Exploits of Ann Bates 253 

man) in the British artillery train, she wanted to leave Phila- 
delphia when the British evacuated it. In May, 1778, just 
before Clinton began his march across New Jersey, Cregge 
asked her to come to see him when she reached New York. 

Though married to a British soldier, Ann Bates coaxed 
Benedict Arnold American commander in Philadelphia, not 
yet a traitor to give her a pass to General Washington's camp, 
with which she calmly set out overland through New Jersey. 
Meeting a party of British prisoners paroled or released she 
went with them to New York, where Colonel Nesbit Balfour, 
commanding the 2grd Regiment of Foot, sent her on to Major 
Drummond, Sir Henry Clinton's aide, in Wall Street. 

By the time she arrived, about the end of June, 1778, Sir 
Henry badly needed information of General Washington's 
movements, and Ann Bates was off on her first recorded secret 
mission. Drummond gave her a token which would identify 
her as a British agent to a disloyal American officer unknown 
to this day who was himself a British secret agent in the 8th 
Pennsylvania Continental Line. Devices of this sort are still 
in use. The "atom spy," Julius Rosenberg, gave half of a Jello 
box top to his courier, Harry Gold, who used it as identification 
at his rendezvous with Ruth and Harry Greenglass, in Albu- 
querque, New Mexico. He might have made a better choice. 
Gold was asked on the witness stand which Jello flavor his box 
top represented. There was laughter in the court at his reply: 


The British tokens, however, were used more successfully. 
Nothing indicates that the Americans ever discovered them. 
In fact, no one has ever learned just what they were. 

Ann was also given five guineas for expenses. Buying me- 
dicinal rhubarb, thread, needles, combs and knives, she pre- 
pared to pose as a peddler, a scheme approved by Sir Henry 
himself. The peddler's pack had by this time become a com- 
mon cover for secret agents, since genuine peddlers were fa- 
miliar figures, who could go anywhere. British spies, posing as 
peddlers with forged certificates and licenses, were carrying a 
good many secret military messages across New Jersey at this 
very time. 


On June 29, using the name Barnes instead of Bates, Ann 
was smuggled into a camp of Tory troops beyond Kingsbridge, 
to spend the night. Thence she had to make the rest of her 
way on foot, as was natural for a peddler, perhaps with oc- 
casional lifts from passing wagons. Once she had to wade 
the Crosswicks River in water up to her armpits, because the 
bridge had broken down. 

Her mention of this stream, near Trenton, shows that the 
shrewd woman took a roundabout way to White Plains, pass- 
ing through New Jersey to conceal the fact that, though carry- 
ing a pass from the American commandant in Philadelphia, 
she was really coming from New York. Benedict Arnold's 
pass would get her into Washington's camp, unsuspected, but 
only if she came from the right direction. She reached White 
Plains on July 2, 1778, only to find that the officer traitor from 
whom she had expected to learn all about American strength 
and positions had resigned from the army. 

No whit discouraged, Ann Bates set to work to get the same 
intelligence herself. By dividing her little stock of merchandise 
(so that no one brigade could buy it all, thus leaving her 
without an excuse to move about), she was able to peddle her 
wares all through the Continental camp "by which means," 
she said later, "I had the Opportunity of going through their 
whole Army Remarking at the same time the strength & Sit- 
uation of each Brigade, 8c the Number of Cannon with their 
Situation and Weight of Ball each Cannon was Charged with." 
Since her husband had long been repairing Sir Henry Clinton's 
field guns, Ann Bates knew more about artillery than most 
women spies, and always reported on it in great detail. 

Accidentally encountering an American acquaintance whom 
she could trust, the resourceful woman gave him money to at- 
tend a lodge of Freemasons and try to get information there 
especially from a commissary's clerk whom she knew (Heaven 
knows howl) to be a Freemason, too. In a short time, the man 
gave her intelligence regarding American troop movements and 
the American organization of special troops to intercept British 

Satisfied with what she had learned, this enterprising lady 

The Exploits of Ann Bates 255 

started casually back to New York, only to be arrested on sus- 
picion, four miles from White Plains. She was turned over to 
a woman, who, after stripping her stark naked and examining 
her clothing, found nothing suspicious, but to Ann's indig- 
nationkept her silver shoe buckles, a silver thimble, a silk 
handkerchief and three dollars. The secret token of British in- 
telligence, whatever it was, escaped attention. After a day and a 
night in confinement, Ann went on to New York and reported 
to Major Drummond. 

Her information was confirmed, at just the right time, by 
John Mason (probably identical with the British spy caught 
and hanged early in 1781) and John Romers, otherwise un- 
known, who had started on a daring" trip from New York to 
Albany County, June 24, 1778, to distribute British propa- 
ganda. Spending a month in American territory for this pur- 
pose, they observed American forces at Paramus, New Jersey, 
July 12 and 13, while General Washington had his headquar- 
ters there. They reported his strength as sixteen thousand men, 
with thirty field guns, two eight-inch mortars, and a train of 
seven hundred wagons, all loaded with provisions. The spies 
probably exaggerated the quantity of rations, for a deserter re- 
ported, the day after Mason and Romers returned, that the 
Continental Army was living "from hand to Mouth on fresh 
provisions No Rum allowed but when send on Command." 

Like Ann Bates, Mason and Romers reported camp gossip 
that Washington would attack New York, while the French 
fleet attacked the harbor. They also secured a full report on 
American magazines and forage, and confirmed reports of the 
Wyoming Massacre, picked up among the Americans. Then, 
passing through the American forces undetected, the two spies 
returned safely to Paulus Hook (Jersey City), July 30, 1778. 

Delighted with the intelligence Ann Bates had brought, Sir 
Henry Clinton gave her only one day's rest before ordering 
her out again. Once more she spent five guineas on peddler's 
goods, and by July 29, 1778, was again in the American camp, 
where she spent a busy week. Ann was now looking for an- 
other disloyal American soldier a man named Chambers but 
"unfortunately found that the Reg* Chambers belonged to, 


had been detached from Belly Forge against the Indians under 
the Com? of Col! Butler, & was positively assured that only the 
17 th returned, & that he fell amongst the rest." The Tory parti- 
san leader, Colonel John Butler, with a detachment o "Royal 
Greens" and Seneca Indians had perpetrated the Wyoming Mas- 
sacre about three weeks earlier. Apparently Chambers British 
spy or nothad perished in pursuit of the raiders. 

For three or four days, the fearless woman wandered undis- 
turbed about the American camp, counting "119 Peices of 
Cannon/' and estimating the American Army's strength at 
twenty-three thousand. She located General Washington's 
quarters "at M r ? Purdies house to the left of the Lines," counted 
twenty cannon on a hill, located the brigades of Sullivan, 
Smallwood and Wayne, as well as the Virginia troops and 
Gates's command, about three miles to the rear, "upon a Hill 
that looks like a hat." She could see no indication that any 
troops had been sent to Rhode Island, but does not seem to 
have realized that General John Sullivan had actually been 
there since April. Being a soldier's wife, she knew the impor- 
tance of rations and reported carefully: "Shad Fish delivered 
out twice a Week and other days fresh ProvisionsPlenty of 
Bread fe flour heard of no Magazines." American uniforms, she 
found, seemed better than before. During this trip the British 
agent was at Washington's headquarters and saw the general, 
though she learned nothing of any importance there. She left 
White Plains on August 2, and evidently returned to New York 
by a roundabout route, for her report in Clinton's intelligence 
record is dated August 6. 

Again she was given practically no time to rest a serious 
matter for a secret agent, since the nervous strain that builds up 
during such a mission makes itself terribly felt when the danger 
is over. On August 8, Ann Bates was off again, was held up on 
the lines for two days, then reached White Plains by way of 
East Chester. American security had tightened up by this time 
and she found that "it is with the greatest difficulty any person 
can get within their camp." All the same, she was in Washing- 
ton's headquarters on Wednesday, August 12, eagerly listening 
to the talk of a careless aide-de-camp and a general officer, who 

The Exploits of Ann Bates 257 

had just arrived and was asking for information. He got it 
and so, thanks to Ann Bates's quick ears, did Henry Clinton. 
Boats were being prepared for a landing on Long Island. Two 
hundred were already finished. Four hundred would be ready 
in another two weeks. 

At this point the chatty young officer came to his senses, 
"When he look'd Round & saw me a Stranger he turn'd the 
Discourse for me to hear/' without in the least deceiving the 
shrewd woman, who had been eagerly memorizing all he said. 
When two French officers approached, this instructive conversa- 
tion ended. 

Peddling her wares about the American camp for several 
days, with her eyes wide open, Ann Bates found that Gates and 
Morgan had 3,800 picked light infantry near Dobbs Ferry. 
Lafayette, with three thousand Continentals and two thousand 
militia, had gone to Rhode Island important information, 
since Clinton was getting ready to go there himself. Lafayette's 
move was confirmed by the fact that "their Camp was not near 
so numerous as when she was first there, nor their Parades half 
so full," and there were now only 16,000 or 17,000 men. 

On August 15 she went through the artillery park, quite un- 
disturbed, counting fifty-one guns and five mortars and carefully 
noting that nine more guns came in the next day. The Ameri- 
cans had plenty of bread and flour, but no fish, and "the Fresh 
Provisions very thin & poor/' She was back in New York with 
her budget of news, August 19, 1778, just as Clinton was pre- 
paring his expedition to relieve the British in Rhode Island. 
She herself said a few years later: "My timly information was 
the blessed means of saving rowd island Garison with all the 
troops and stores who must otherwise [have] falen a pray to 
their Enemies." When this was shown to Drummond he said: 
"She asserts nothing but what is strictly true." She had also 
found time to visit Horseneck (a district in Greenwich), report- 
ing American losses of fifteen hundred, though the rebels still 
expected to win Rhode Island, and warning that another British 
woman spy ought to be more discreet, "as she discovered her 
Errand to a man." The other woman must have taken the hint 
and maintained secrecy after that, for she is still unknown. 


In Clinton's absence in Rhode Island, Ann had three weeks 
to rest; but when the Continental Army began to move, she was 
sent out to see what it was really doing. Two dates tell the 
story. On September 15, 1778, General Washington issued 
orders: "The whole Army will march tomorrow at seven 
o'Clock/* On September 21, Ann was off again. Leaving New 
York, she found Putnam had been ordered up the Hudson. 
General Washington had set up new headquarters "within five 
miles of Danbury," and had eighty guns. In fact, he was at 
Fredericksburgh, September 2 1-30, not far from Danbury, 

Finding the Continental Army in motion, she cannily at- 
tached herself to the column led by Washington himself, "being 
the likeliest to gain the best Intelligence." Deciding when she 
had dogged the American commander as far as North Castle, 
near the Connecticut border that she had enough information, 
she turned around and headed back for New Jersey. She knew 
exactly where to go. When she reached Crosswicks, at "a 
friends House/' Cregge met her. Though New Jersey was in 
rebel hands, the British spy master had had no trouble getting 

After reporting, Ann was told to rejoin General Washington's 
column at once and locate the new stations of all American 
divisions. Hurrying back, she overtook General Washington 
eight miles from "Morrisons Stores." She had hardly arrived, 
however, when she was recognized by "one Smith a deserter 
from the 27th [British] Reg*" and fled "for fear of being taken 
up as a Spie." 

Ann Bates, however, was a determined lady, who believed in 
thorough investigation. Though she had been exposed for what 
she was, the rebels hadn't caught her yet; and when, a little 
later, she fell in by chance with the New York Brigade, she 
paused to count their artillery "Eighteen Field pieces Long 
sixes's & long ten's" then decided she had better march along 
with them till she was sure where they were going. Somewhere 
behind her, the hunt was up; but, with characteristic courage, 
Ann Bates took time for one last bit of intelligence. This was 
on September 25, 1778. 

There was no time now for the long, roundabout journey 

The Exploits of Ann Bates 259 

through New Jersey. That had been safe enough before she 
had been recognized; but now the Americans would be looking 
for her everywhere; and her only hope was a plunge straight for 
the British lines. 

What she unexpectedly plunged into, instead, was another 
American columnfive thousand troops under General Charles 
Scott. They halted her, of course, and brought her to Scott, 
who had for some time been in charge of intelligence near New 
York, the last man in the world a British agent wanted to meet. 
Some women might have been a little frightened by this time; 
but, to the quick-thinking lady spy, her capture was just an- 
other golden opportunity. She had gotten a pass from one 
American general. Why not another? 

Persuasively she explained to the credulous Scott that she 
"was a Soldier's Wife in the Centre Division & had forgot some- 
thing about five or six Miles below the Plains." If Scott asked 
a few searching questions about the Centre Division, he got 
convincing answers. By that time Ann Bates knew more about 
the Centre Division than he did. Obligingly, the officer who 
had been directing American intelligence for some time wrote 
out a pass for the most dangerous secret agent in the enemy's 
service. No one can doubt that Ann Bates was sweetly and 
charmingly grateful to the kind general. 

Again, her courage saved her. British troops under General 
James Grant were out on a reconnoissance in force that morn- 
ing; and Major Oliver DeLancey, a New York-born British 
regular, was with the advanced guard. One can imagine the 
hunted creature's relief as the red uniforms appeared. 

DeLancey, himself an intelligence officer, sent her to the rear, 
with an N.C.O. for escort. Presently they met the general with 
one aide-de-camp. A staff officer guessed Ann's identity. Was 
this lady "the Person sent out by Major Drummond?" She was. 
She could show her token. 

Hastily getting rid of the N.C.O. the less the ranks knew 
about this kind of thing the better the aide sat down on a 
stump to write down "the Several Informations I had been able 
to Obtain." This was on September 28. Whether a report was 
sent back to New York or not, Grant's staff kept her with them 


two days she had just the information they might need about 
the rebel troops ahead. 

Again, a second source proved the accuracy of her informa- 
tion. James, a Negro slave belonging to Gilbert Ogden, at 
North Castle, had come over to the British in late September. 
He confirmed part of her news, reporting that Washington had 
marched to the vicinity of Fredericksburgh and had his troops 
distributed all the way from there to Danbury. After Ann 
reached New York on September 30, James was sent home to 
spy some more, with a reward of two guineas. 

When Ann arrived in the city at last, she had to break the 
news to Drummond that she "durst not any more attempt to 
prosecute discoveries in General Washingtons Army." Despair- 
ingly, the officer remarked "he did not know what they should 
do." Ann modestly took this as "a plain demonstration that 
I had been Serviceable to the English Army." 

Though sending her back to Washington meant sending her 
to certain death, Drummond was quick to see that Ann could 
still continue her deadly work if he could get her far enough 
away from Smith, the English deserter. There was an American 
officer on Long Island at the moment evidently another secret 
traitor, or posing as one, for Drummond knew all about him 
and, in fact, already had an appointment with him. Taking 
Ann by boat, Drummond hurried out to "a Certain Gentlemans 
House." (Even in 1785, when the war was over, Ann Bates was 
too close-mouthed to mention names the unknown gentleman 
was probably still living on Long Island and now posing as a 
stanch patriot.) They were too late. The double agent, who- 
ever he was, had left a few hours before; and Drummond had to 
give up his scheme of co-operation of some kind between the 

When next he met Ann Bates, after this disappointment, 
Drummond asked her to go to a place "about Forty Seven miles 
from Philadelphia" perhaps Easton, Allentown or Bethlehem. 
Here she was to meet a "Friend that was in Connection with 
General Arnold." The friend turned out to be a woman secret 
agent, of whom nothing else is known. The incident seems to 

The Exploits of Ann Bates 261 

indicate that Arnold was already in touch with the British in 
1778, six months earlier than is usually supposed. 

Ann was given a list of safe houses, "where I might be ac- 
commodated through the Jerseys," then dropped on the Jersey 
shore. Through Middletown and Bordentown, she reached 
Philadelphia, and went on to her destination, the British spy 
nest, next day. Here she met with suspicion, because she had 
brought no token. Glibly she explained that the only officer 
who knew about the tokens was in London. When she had 
quieted the other woman spy's suspicions, Ann gave her direc- 
tions for "the proper Houses of Reception she was to call at,*' 
and herself went back alone as far as Middletown. When the 
mysterious woman joined herit was safer to travel separately 
as long as possiblethey went on to "the Horse Shoe," where a 
boat took them to New York. Presently the other woman went 
back to Pennsylvania, doubtless to see what could be done with 

After that, there was, for a time, no more espionage for Ann, 
since her friend Drummond had returned to England after a 
quarrel with Sir Henry Clinton. In August, 1779, Andre, now 
deep in the Arnold treason scheme, sent for her to "go the same 
Journey again, and bring the same person to New York." 
Though she had to be given an armed guard part way into New 
Jersey, "the Rebel Scouts being at that time very Numerous/' 
she had no difficulty in traveling the rest of the way alone. It 
seems clear she was still using the secret chain of "safe" Tory 
houses the British had established across the Middle Atlantic 
states. This was so effective that British prisoners, escaping in 
Virginia, could secretly return cross-countrynot with one 
guide, but with two going undetected straight through the 
American forces. 

Ann Bates had no trouble bringing the other lady spy back, 
until they reached the New Jersey shore of the Hudson. Here, 
however, the two anxious women had to wait three days for a 
boat, "exposed to the Enemys Scouting parties as well as the 
Inclemency of the Elements." Ann found it uncomfortable to 
sleep with "nothing but a Stone Pillow to Rest my Head" 
which means that some Tory, not daring to take them into his 


house, hid them in a barn or cellar. Their boat had been held 
up two days by a storm. But Ann reached Andre finally and, 
in addition to the spy she had been told to bring back, blandly 
produced a report on "Shipping at Philadelphia with their 
force whether equipt for sea or on the Stocks, also an Account 
of the Stock of Flour. The Rebels had at the Different Mills 
on Westahicking [Wissahickon] Creek/ 7 Andre thought it was 
worth ten guineas. 

When Clinton captured Charleston, South Carolina, May 12, 
1780, Ann Bates went with her husband, in the artillery train. 
During the British occupation, while her friend Colonel Bal- 
four was commandant, she was twice alerted for a secret journey 
to Cornwallis's forces farther north, but each time the scheme 
fell through. On March 6, 1781, she and her husband received 
permission to sail for England. Occasional references in British 
headquarters documents after that date, to "the Fair one" and 
"a woman" who "went out from our lines," refer to some other 
female agent. 

By this time, Ann Bates might not have found secret journeys 
through Pennsylvania quite so safe; for in 1781 Clinton's chain 
of safe houses was partly broken by the daring exploit of Cap- 
tain Andrew Lee, of Paxtang, Pennsylvania, serving temporarily 
as an American counterintelligence agent. General Washington 
had been annoyed by the constant escape of prisoners from 
Lancaster. After getting out of their prison, the men utterly 
vanished, though the nearest British post was a hundred miles 
distant, and they were clad in the brilliant British uniform. It 
was evident that they were traveling by night and hiding by 
day in the houses of royalist sympathizers, who might also be 
concealing British spies. 

General Washington turned the problem over to General 
Moses Hazen, who sent for Captain Lee. Lee suddenly disap- 
peared, while his brother officers were allowed to understand 
that he was either on leave or "on command," about which it 
was better not to ask questions. Actually, he had been thrust 
into prison, so completely disguised in British uniform that the 
American "intendant" in charge, though an acquaintance, did 
not recognize him. 

The Exploits of Ann Bates 263 

The new "prisoner" soon had his eye on an old woman, deaf 
and half-wittedor supposed to be so who sold fruit to the 
genuine prisoners. Lee rather thought he saw "signs" ex- 
changed between the crone and the captives. He knew that her 
son had been thrown out of the American Army in disgrace, 
after punishment of some kind. 

One rainy, windy night when a careless or bribed sentry had 
taken refuge from the rain, a mysterious figure slipped into the 
prisoners' barracks and began waking some of them. Casually 
the disguised American joined the group. 

"Not the man but come," said the stranger. 

The door of the prison barracks was unbarred. Outside, 
where a section of the stockade had been taken down, the old 
woman who had been selling fruit joined them; and presently, 
from a neighboring thicket, a male companion emerged. 

The two guided the escaping prisoners to the woman's house, 
a mile away, where they were given food and took an oath not 
to try to move farther, except with the group. Lee was dis- 
turbed to find that among the escaping prisoners was one he had 
himself punished; but, to his relief, the man gave no sign of 
recognition. Just as an alarm gun sounded from the American 
camp, the fugitives started out through the night and were soon 
hidden in one of the large stone barns common in southeastern 
Pennsylvania. Night after night the group trudged along, mak- 
ing only a few miles from one haven to another, finding shelter 
in barns, cellars and caves when daylight came. Once they were 
hidden in a "tomb." 

Although he had shrewdly given no sign, the British prisoner, 
whom Lee had earlier punished, had, in reality, long since recog- 
nized him as an American officer and guessed what he was do- 
ing. On the twelfth night, perhaps by this man's secret 
connivance, Lee was hidden alone with him in a barn, while 
the others were lodged in a cellar which had been secretly dug 
underneath a stone church. Now, for the first time, the Tory 
guide learned Lee's identity, a discovery which he insisted on 
keeping secret for the time being. If Lee really was a spy trying 
to slip into the British lines with the escaping prisoners, the 
safest thing was to keep him with the party till he had been 


lured to a place where the British themselves could seize him. 

When at length the escaping prisoners reached the bank of 
the Delaware, no one could find a boat. Handing his pistol to 
the man who had identified the American captain, the guide 
went off with the others, to look for some means of crossing the 

The American had by this time accomplished his mission; he 
knew how the escapes were being managed; knew the route; 
knew the Tories who were helping. It was time to break away. 
Once beyond the Delaware, he would soon be in British-held 
territory, illegally in British uniform and subject to execution 
by all the rules of land warfare. 

Captain Lee may, by this time, have guessed that he had been 
detected. If not, he soon found out; for, when he tried to leave, 
the man hiding with him fired harmlessly, since, strange to 
say, the guide's pistol had been loaded with powder only. 
There was a knife fight vigorous enough, since Lee, though 
small, was agile which lasted until an American patrol arrived, 
attracted by the noise, and arrested Lee, his assailant, and most 
(if not all) of the others. 

The Americans took their catch before a magistrate, who 
merely laughed at Lee's claim to be an American officer, and 
had the whole group marched off to Philadelphia in irons. Lee 
was released only after he had managed to send a note to Gen- 
eral Benjamin Lincoln, whose aide promptly arrived to take 
him to the general. Lincoln burst into roars of laughter when 
he beheld the forlorn figure of his brother officer, who had not 
shaved for a week and whose British uniform was by this time 
in tatters. 

Returning to Lancaster, Lee retraced the route of the prison- 
ers, exposing the Tories who had sheltered them. Fifteen ar- 
rests closed the escape line. In January, a Philadelphia grand 
jury found true bills against the guilty Tories. 

It was perhaps for this reason that Ann Bates was allowed to 
leave the secret service. She had been identified in General 
Washington's command. The line of safe houses in Pennsyl- 
vania had been broken. She had not succeeded in the south. 

The Exploits of Ann Bates 265 

Approve or not, as you will, of the things she did, Ann Bates was 
such a good secret agent that no one has ever heard of her. 
Only once before has her name been mentioned and never her 


General Clinton's Spies and Some Others 

THE BRITISH INTELLIGENCE service greatly improved after Sir 
Henry Clinton took command, partly because of the enthusi- 
asm of Major John Andre, who had begun to do intelligence 
work long before Clinton made him acting adjutant general in 
October, 1779. Benedict Arnold's first positively known offers 
of treason, in May, 1779, were made to Andre; and there may 
have been earlier offers of which the record now is lost. 

As Andre organized it, the British spy net covered Vermont 
and New Hampshire (both of which the British long hoped to 
win over to the king), Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, 
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Espionage 
in Massachusetts was largely neglected during the latter part of 
the war, since so few Tories were left and no campaign there 
was planned. 

As Clinton's espionage expanded, various assistants were 
drawn into his headquarters to deal with the reports of innu- 
merable spies. The Tory, Colonel Beverly Robinson, guided 
espionage in and around West Point, near which his estate lay, 
so that he had many friends, tenants and acquaintances in an 
area of great military importance. John Cane, a Brooklyn Tory, 
at times assisted him. The Reverend Jonathan Odell, a fugitive 


General Clinton's Spies and Some Others 267 

New Jersey parson, took a hand, especially in the Arnold trea- 
son. Christopher Saur, the younger, one of the famous dynasty 
of Pennsylvania printers, dealt with secret couriers from the 
Tory plotters who planned to seize a large part of Delaware, 
Maryland and Pennsylvania for the king. Joseph Chew, a New 
London Tory, helped direct the agents in New York. Cortlandt 
Skinner continued the New Jersey espionage net he had begun 
for Howe. 

A group of skilled and daring semiprofessional spies stood 
ready, in and around New York, for any secret mission that 
might be required. Among them were Mrs. Ann Bates, one of 
history's most remarkable female agents; the daring Moody 
brothers, James and John; Manuel Elderbeck, Sylvanus Hugh- 
son and William Jacobs, operating along the Hudson in 1778; 
Ezekiel Yeomans and the same William Jacobs along the Hud- 
son, in 1781; Solomon Bradbury, observing American troops 
near Amawalk, New York, in 1779; Thomas Ward, operating 
in New Jersey and up the Hudson to Albany, with two assist- 
ants from 1779 to 1781; William Nelson, who made a secret 
tour November 1-12, 1781, to examine American positions in 
the Highlands, at West Point, Stony Point, Verplanck's Point, 
Continental Village and Pike's Hill; Joseph Clark, watching 
French movements in Rhode Island and along the Hudson in 
the first half of 1781; Samuel Shoemaker, the Philadelphia 
Quaker to whom Sir Henry Clinton paid 100 "for procuring 
Intelligence," and to whom Sir Guy Carleton, the last British 
commander, paid 200 more; Metcalf Bowler, chief justice of 
Rhode Island; Thomas Hazard, who "procured Intelligence 
for the British at very great risque," at Kingston, Rhode Island; 
Captain Sir James Wallace, R.N., commanding H.M.S. Rose, 
who received intelligence from Robert Ferguson and Dr. John 
Haliburton, of Newport, Rhode Island; Caleb Bruen, of New- 
ark, New Jersey, who besides spying in New Jersey served as a 
secret courier, carrying Doctor Haliburton's intelligence to 
Clinton; David Gray, another secret courier and spy, operating 
in New York, Connecticut, Vermont, and northward to Canada. 
It would have grieved Sir Henry Clinton had he known that 
Bruen and Gray were both captains in the American Army, 


patriotically serving the British on orders from General Wash- 

Clinton soon had so many well-trained secret agents in New 
York that he could hurry spies out to investigate, the moment 
a query came in. Andre, for example, at one time became suspi- 
cious that Arnold did not really mean to turn traitor, but was 
only leading the British on. The major's assistant, Joseph 
Chew, was able to "put two persons out in order to obtain an 
account of Mr. Arnold's movements/' within two and a half 

In New Jersey a similar network of spies, who were never 
detectedprobably Skinner's men reported regularly to British 
headquarters. That this was a network and not a single agent 
is shown by one message: "All friends are WelL" Among these 
men were Joseph Gould, operating in Newark as early as 1780 
and probably to the end of the war; John Rattoon, active in the 
Arnold treason; Tunis Blauvelt, who boldly entered and ob- 
served an American blockhouse in 1781; and "Usual" (Uzal) 
Woodruff, who was spying on Washington at Morristown in 

Another British agent in New Jersey was Benjamin Whitcuff, a 
free Negro from Long Island, who joined the British in 1776 
or 1777, under Howe, and spied for nearly two years. Americans 
caught and hanged him "at Cranbury in the Jerseys," but Brit- 
ish troops, arriving three minutes later, cut him down in time 
to save his life. The British spy's father was serving in the 
American Army. 

Not quite in the same category was Edward Fox, a clerk in 
the Continental Treasury in Philadelphia, whom the British 
captured about August, 1779. He plotted (or pretended to 
plot) with Andre to place a man in the office of the secretary 
of Congress to secure intelligence, and to work directly with 

a mysterious "C ," who appears to have been in Congress, 

and who may have been Samuel Chase, a signer of the Declara- 
tion of Independence. Andr promised to send a secret courier 
to Philadelphia for such intelligence as Fox could gather, when- 
ever Fox sent the code message: "The Compliments of Clap- 
ham." It was agreed: "The Messenger is to make a Cross in 

General Clinton's Spiesand Some Others 269 

chalk on the pit door of the play house at night, & on the next 
day is to find an hour and address marked over it when to 
call for a parcell." (A worse method of secret communication 
it would be hard to imagine.) 

Andre did, however, arrange a fairly adequate recognition 
system for his secret courier, who was to make contact with 
Fox. His instruction reads: "Monmouth is the first word in 
case of an interview Penobscot the Second." But all this plotting 
led to nothing whatever except Fox's freedom. His promise of 
future treason seems to have been wholly false a mere trick 
to persuade the British to release him. 

Andre worked out a system of code names for towns, rivers 
and patriot leaders, finding malicious amusement in giving 
two rebel strongholds the names of the worst places in the 
Bible: "Sodom" (Fort Wyoming) and "Gomorrha" (Fort Pitt). 
Indians were "Pharisees." Other code names were "Synagogue" 
(Congress), "Alexandria" (Detroit), "Rome" (Carlisle, Pennsyl- 
vania), "Jordan" (Susquehanna), "James" (General Washing- 
ton), "Matthew" (General John Sullivan), "Luke" (General 
Edward Hand). Among British frontier leaders, Colonel John 
Butler was "Lazarus"; the educated Mohawk chief, Joseph 
Brant, "Zebedee." Let the rebels break the British cipher if 
they could! The deciphered message would still mean very 
little if these code names were used. 

The identity of agents was protected by the use of false names, 
sometimes several for the same spy. Arnold called himself both 
"Gustavus" and "John Moore." One message to the Mohawk 
chief, Joseph Brant, was not signed at all. Instead, the last 
paragraph said only: "That you may not be at a loss to know 
who sends you this, it is the person at whose quarters you were 
when you had a particular conversation with General Tryon.'" 

While Clinton was still under Howe's command, he had be- 
gun using a "dumbbell" paper mask. He also used another 
mask, with oblong holes cut in it. By 1778 and perhaps earlier, 
the British were also using a numerical code, beginning with 
the number 50, with a word for each number. Like Tallmadge, 
who devised a similar code for Washington, Andre made the 
mistake of numbering the words in their alphabetical order, 


so that each, number gave some clue to the word it represented. 
In the Arnold treason, Andre used two secret inks, one de- 
veloped by heat, the other by acid, and a dictionary code, in 
which numbers gave page, column and word in selected editions 
of Bailey's Dictionary or Blackstone's Commentaries. 

Clinton's new ciphers were much better than the crude system 
General Gage and Doctor Church had used in 1775. One was 
a substitution cipher, in which the alphabet was reversed, "z" 
becoming "a" and "a" becoming "z." To destroy frequency 
clues, the cipher changed in each line of the message, using 
"y" for "a" in the second line, "x" for "a" in the third, and 
so on. When the cipher clerk reached "o," in the middle of 
the alphabet, he started over again. A spy using this cipher did 
not have to carry incriminating papers, since the system was 
so easy to remember. 

Clinton also used another substitution cipher, with different 
alphabets for the first, second and third paragraphs. Even if 
an American cryptanalyst should break the cipher in one para- 
graph, he would have to start all over in the next. As late 
as 1781, however, Sir Henry was using one extremely clumsy 
substitution cipher, in which "a" was 51, "d" was 54, "e" 55. 
Finding that "a" was 51 and "d" 54, anyone could guess (cor- 
rectly) that "b" was 52, "c" 53. Somewhat more complex was 
his "pigpen" cipher, in which twenty-five letters of the alphabet 
were placed in squares. Then an angle alone would represent 
a letter, the same angle with a dot another letter, the angle 
with two dots still another. In some cases, cryptography was 
used only for a few crucial words in an otherwise "clear" mes- 
sage, a method also favored by certain American officials. 

Important information was brought in by the perpetual 
stream of Tory refugees, escaping British prisoners and desert- 
ing American soldiers. Reports of spies and interrogations of 
deserters or other informants were written down in four in- 
telligence books, two of which are now in the New York Public 
Library, one in the Library of Congress, and one in the Clem- 
ents Library, where there are also many manuscripts of the 
same sort. 

From the spy system, military intelligence came pouring in. 

General Clinton's Spiesand Some Others 271 

The effect of Pulaski's death; American strength reports and 
order of battle; the garrison at Fort Wyoming, on the wild 
Susquehanna; artillery at Easton, Pennsylvania; settlement of 
dissatisfied Americans in "a place called Cane tuck"; disposition, 
strength, sentries and alarm signals of General Washington's 
bodyguard; records of the Maryland Dragoons "taken from the 
Rebel Clothier General Books"; difficulties with provisions, 
clothing and currency all swiftly reached Sir Henry Clinton. 
Once, New Jersey spies reported new official currency exchange 
rates before Congress had time to publish them. A report from 
Bergen, New Jersey, in August, 1779, locates American head- 
quarters in ' 'Moore's House" in the Highlands of the Hudson, 
which as General Washington's orders show is exactly where 
they were. After that, the British often knew what houses 
the Continental commander and other generals were living 
in. Once they knew where General Washington would sleep 
twenty-four hours before his arrival! This was in accord with 
special orders to report Washington's whereabouts at all times. 

Clinton's espionage was not confined to the theater of opera- 
tions. The Americans captured Lieutenant Henry Hare a 
Tory refugee from Florida, New York, who had joined the 
British armed forces near Canajoharie, New York, with two 
companions, in June, 1779, an( i hanged him as a spy June 
21, "to the general Satisfaction of every Person who knew him, 
except his own intimate Connections." Hare's wife and chil- 
dren pleaded for his life in vain, but his companions may 
have saved their lives by giving information. 

British spies continued to visit Connecticut. One of them, 
Andrew Patchen, of Redding, though twice captured, survived 
the war. Edward Jones, of Ridgefield, was less fortunate. Israel 
Putnam's outposts caught him in February, 1779; and a court- 
martial sentenced him to death on charge of guiding enemy 
troops and espionage. Jones may have been doing nothing worse 
than buying beef for the British Army; but as he was acting 
secretly, out of uniform, and within the American lines, he 
was technically a spy. 

Jones's execution was an unusually ghastly business. He was 
brought to a twenty-foot gallows just in time to see the bleeding 


body of a deserter, whose uniform had taken fire from the 
muskets of the firing squad. Then, as poor Jones stood on 
the ladder with the noose around his neck, it was discovered 
that the executioner had lost his nerve and disappeared. From 
the ground, Israel Putnam shouted to the condemned man to 
jump an order with which the spy excusably declined to 
comply; and eventually the ladder had to be turned over under 
him, throwing him into the air. 

James Moody, the New Jersey Tory, who had been active 
under Howe, remained equally active under Clinton. He was 
out on a guerrilla raid through New Jersey in June, 1779, and 
in October went out to spy directly on Washington's army. In 
November he crossed New Jersey into Pennsylvania to observe 
General John Sullivan's army, after its raid on Iroquois New 
York. Having ascertained its strength, he started back, pausing 
in Morris County, New Jersey, for a secret examination of 
the ration books of the Continental Army, which gave him 
a good idea of American strength. He paused again in Pomp- 
ton, New Jersey, to spy on Gates's forces, collecting "the exact- 
est information, not only of the amount of the force then 
with him, but of the numbers that were expected to join him." 
During the trip he also managed to raid an American jail, re- 
leasing a British prisoner under sentence of death. 

Moody was not always successful. He failed to blow up the 
American magazine at Suckasanna, about eighteen miles from 
Morristown, and his attempt to kidnap Governor William 
Livingston, of New Jersey, discovered almost at once, led to 
some tart correspondence between the intended victim and 
the British commander and to a proclamation by Governor 
Livingston, offering a reward for Moody's capture. 

This was too much for Moody's sense of humor. He replied 
with a private proclamation of his own, offering two hundred 
guineas for "a certain William Livingston, late an Attorney at 
Law, and now a lawless usurper and incorrigible rebel." Fur- 
ther: "If his whole person cannot be brought in, half the sum 
above specified will be paid for his EARS and NOSE, which are 
too well known, and too remarkable to be mistaken." The 
British spy's reference to the governor's nose was extremely 

General Clinton's Spies and Some Others 273 

unkind. A surviving silhouette, confirmed by a painted por- 
trait, shows that it was of almost elephantine proportions. To 
make the unkind cut unkinder still, everyone knew that boun- 
ties for "vermin" wolves, foxes and other troublesome animals 
-were often paid for the ears or nose. 

In the end, Moody's daring led to his capture by Anthony 
Wayne's troops. He was sent to prison at West Point, where 
General Robert Howe was in command, was transferred to 
other prisons, was then sent back to West Point, where he re- 
mained a prisoner after Arnold had taken command. 

The commandant of the West Point garrison, Colonel John 
C. Lamb, did not want so resourceful a prisoner, being ap- 
prehensive that, even in prison, Moody had learned far too 
much about the garrison. Benedict Arnold, only a few weeks 
before his own flight to the enemy, nevertheless ordered the 
spy's irons taken off, though he remarked virtuously, "I be- 
lieve Moody is a bad man"! The irons went back on, however, 
when Lamb pointed out that Moody would escape within forty- 
eight hours unless fettered, and warned the traitor Arnold, 
with unconscious irony, "Every method ought to be taken to 
prevent the enemy from knowing the real strength of this 
post" which Arnold had long ago betrayed. 

Eventually, Moody was returned to General Washington's 
own provost guard, characteristically seizing a good chance to 
count American artillery on the way. One night the captive 
managed to break the bolt of his handcuffs, knock down a 
careless sentry, and escape with the man's musket. Other 
guards rushed past the quick-thinking spy, who had stayed in 
the open, musket on shoulder, posing in the darkness as one 
of his own pursuers. Knowing exactly where Tories lived, he 
passed from one friendly house to another and, at the end of 
September, 1780, arrived safely at Paulus Hook, about the time 
his late jailer, Benedict Arnold, also arrived in New York. 

On March 6, 1781, Moody sallied into New Jersey again, in 
an unsuccessful attempt to intercept General Washington's dis- 
patches. By March 10, he was lurking near Haverstraw Moun- 
tain, only to learn that the Continental Army's mails had 
already passed. But the indefatigable Moody continued to lurk 


until, in the middle of March, he at last captured the secret 
military pouches and brought them in triumph back to New 
York. On the following day, he was asking Clinton for two 
lightly armed men and some money for another "enterprise 
against the rebel mails/' 

In mid-May, 1781, headquarters sent him out once more, but 
the expedition was a failure. Moody was nearly captured sev- 
eral times and had to fight his way back to New York; but the 
very next night, May 18, the intrepid Tory tried his luck again, 
feeling sure no patriots would expect him so soon after his 
defeat. After a fight near Saddle River (probably between 
Passaic and Hackensack), he pushed on to Pomp ton, only to 
find that the official mails were now sent by a different route. 

The word spread: "Moody is out." That undaunted individ- 
ual quietly lay in wait along the dispatch rider's new route, 
which he had quickly discovered, noting with amusement that 
the local American militia was brought down "from the part 
where he really was, to pursue him where he was not." This 
time the spy got a rich haul General Washington's agreements 
with Rochambeau, following their conference in Connecticut 
to plan the attack on New York. Two other mails were later 
seized by Moody's men. 

The Americans had long since learned to fear the doughty 
guerrilla. On May 4, 1781, the American commissary, Charles 
Stewart, was panic-stricken on learning he was in the field again 
and hastily demanded protection for his quartermaster stores 
at Sussex Court House, New Jersey, which were in danger 
"from Moody who is again in the country." The presence of 
Indian raiders at the same time did not worry him; but he 
wrote: "Moody is a fellow of enterprize and knows the Contry 
well he has traveled it through and through and will doubtless 
effect the Destruction of the Stores." Colonel Elias Dayton, 
however, was able to save them. 

Eventually, the pitcher went too often to the well. Lieuten- 
ant General Baron Wilhelm von Knyphausen had captured 
Thomas Edison, or Addison, who had been assisting Charles 
Thomson, secretary to the Continental Congress. Edison talked 
his captors into believing that he had access to congressional 

General Clinton's Spies and Some Others 275 

papers (which was true) and that he would betray them (which 
was not). He was released and told when and where to meet 
the spies, near Philadelphia. On November 7, 1781, John 
Moody, the spy's brother, and Laurence Marr found Edison 
waiting for them on the Jersey bank of the Delaware, opposite 
the city, while James Moody himself lurked within hearing but 
out of sight. 

Edison assured his dupes that next evening he could let them 
into "the most private recesses of the State-house," where 
secret papers of the Continental Congress were filed. 

When the time came, John Moody and Marr crossed to Phil- 
adelphia, while James Moody waited openly in the ferryhouse 
on the New Jersey shore, telling a woman there that he belonged 
to the Jersey Brigade. He was entirely truthful. There was an 
American, as well as a British, Jersey Brigade. Moody did not 
feel called upon to state which one he belonged to, and no 
one troubled to ask him. 

Returning to his room for the night though not to sleep- 
Moody heard a new arrival from the Pennsylvania side remark, 
about eleven o'clock, that "there was the devil to pay in Phil- 
adelphia; that there had been a plot to break into the State- 
house, but that one of the party had betrayed the others; that 
two were already taken; and that a party of soldiers had just 
crossed the river with him, to seize their leader, who was said 
to be thereabouts." 

Snatching his pistols, the British agent fled for a neighboring 
woods, saw cavalry ahead, and flung himself flat in a ditch. 
Searching troopers passed within ten feet, and he could see 
the men running their bayonets into shocks of corn in a field 
near by. When the searchers had passed, he hid for two days 
in one of the corn shocks he had already seen being searched. 
Later he found a refuge which he always refused to name; 
stole a boat, in which he rowed openly up the Delaware, con- 
versing in a friendly way with other boatmen as he passed; 
and, working his way from one Tory house to another, across 
New Jersey, reached New York. John Moody was hanged 
November 13, 1781. Marr probably gave enough information 
to save his life. Congress paid Edison a cash reward of $266 


General Clinto 's least useful spy, Metcalf Bowler, of Rhode 
Island, joined the patriots just long enough to be made chief 
justice of the new state; then, on December 12, 1776, secretly 
wrote British headquarters in Rhode Island that he wanted to 
take advantage of the proclamation of amnestyat the same 
time asking the British to let him retain his office and salary in 
the rebel government! When Clinton was in Newport in 1778, 
the chief justice agreed to send military intelligence, on condi- 
tion that Clinton himself should be the only one to see the 
letters. Bowler proposed to get himself elected, as a patriot, to 
the Rhode Island General Assembly-if the enemy would pro- 
vide money for his election expenses! He also wanted orders 
given to the British command in Newport to protect his person 
and property, and demanded compensation for the use of his 
house as a British hospital, and of his farm as a British encamp- 
ment. Clinton's consent to these proposals put Bowler in the 
agreeable position of receiving his salary as chief justice from 
the rebellious state of Rhode Island, while receiving cash, or 
gratitude, or both, from the British crown. 

Though Bowler sent a little military intelligence from time 
to time, none of it was of much importance. He gave some 
dubious information on naval movements and predicted (ap- 
parently in error) the movement of Huntington's regiment 
from New London to Rhode Island in 1779. He reported on 
American troops in Rhode Island and Connecticut, on Ameri- 
can difficulties in recruiting, and on the defenseless state of 
Boston which was of no use, as the British were no longer 
interested in Boston. There is nothing to indicate he sent any 
intelligence at all after October, 1779, and a large part of his 
correspondence is devoted to expatiating on his own danger. 
Bowler is chiefly of interest today not because he was a second- 
rate spy, but because one room of his house was so beautiful 
that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has preserved it. 

A more successful British spy in Rhode Island was the Tory, 
Robert Ferguson, who supplied "material Intelligence' 7 to Cap- 
tain Sir James Wallace, of H.M.S. Rose. In 1777, he sent Sir 
Henry Clinton a detailed terrain study, describing the country 
around Providence and in other parts of New England, with a 

General Clinton's Spies and Some Others 277 

view to possible future military operations there, which never 
took place. 

However successful Bowler and Ferguson may have been in 
evading detection, a far cleverer American spy, working under 
their very noses, was evading detection with equal success, and 
supplying a great deal more intelligence. For fourteen months, 
Isaac Barker, of Middletown, Rhode Island, and his assistants 
spied upon Clinton's forces in Rhode Island, supplying a con- 
tinuous flow of news to Lieutenant Seth Chapin, the American 
contact officer detailed for this purpose, until the British aban- 
doned Rhode Island forever. Barker employed a secret signal 
system and the same kind of 'letter drop," or "post office," that 
the Mersereaus were using in New Jersey. Under this system, 
spies and couriers never met. The agent dropped his report at 
the place agreed upon; when he had gone, the courier picked 
It up. 

Barker a patriotic farmer, aged about twenty-six, living at 
Middletown, a few miles from Newport later said he began 
espionage for the Americans when Clinton drove General John 
Sullivan out of Newport in August, 1778; but it is very likely he 
was the secret agent, signing only as "Anonymous," who was 
supplying information to General Sullivan from Little Cotnp- 
ton in July. Again the Continental Army had realized the value 
of planting spies ahead of time, in areas it would be forced to 
evacuate. Isaac Barker was ready to commence intelligence 
work as soon as the Americans left, with the assistance of Sam- 
uel, Hezekiah and Gideon Barker, probably his brothers. 
Either then or very soon afterward, Lieutenant Seth Chapin 
was stationed at Little Compton, across the Sakonnet River, 
some miles east of Newport "apparently without business or 
object." The lieutenant's real business would have surprised 
his brother officers in the Continental Army for it consisted 
mainly of watching a stone wall. 

Isaac Barker explained, after the war, how he had communi- 
cated with Lieutenant Chapin by "telegraphic signals," made 
with a "Stake & a Crutch & a stone Wall." Precisely how these 
familiar objects made a telegraphic code is by no means clear 
even now, in spite of an elaborate diagram that Barker himself 


drew. His sketch shows the wall, with numbers along it. The 
position of two barways (the old name for openings in a stone 
fence closed by bars) and a single tree are also indicated in the 
sketch, to which Barker has added a written explanation. "The 
signals were a Stake and a crutch;' he says, for which the wall 
provided a basis. Apparently the place on the wall where these 
appeared could be made to indicate a number; and with a series 
o numbers a code is possible. The "crutch" was probably the 
crotch of a tree. Though Barker does not say so, it is very likely 
that the positions of rails, i.e., "bars," in the barways were also 

The scheming lieutenant could see all this from the other 
shore, though he needed field glasses, for the fence was a mile 
from the western bank of the Sakonnet River, and he himself 
was observing from the eastern bank. Since Isaac Barker later 
asserted that he could receive instructions, another fence on the 
American side may have been used in the same way. 

To transmit complicated intelligence, such signals were in- 
adequate, though Barker later proudly told a friend that he 
could transmit about a dozen different messages with this crude 
equipment. To supplement his system, Barker maintained a 
post office under a flat stone on North Point, about a mile away. 
The lieutenant had a whaleboat, also known as a "lookout 
boat," with a crew including men whose names show that they 
were related to the secret agents on shore. The "pilot" was 
Hezekiah Barker. In the crew was William Taggart, probably 
the son of Judge William Taggart, who was busily collecting 
intelligence near Newport. In fact, the whole espionage scheme 
seems to have been a family affair. 

With a crew of local men like these, who knew the river, 
Chapin had no trouble slipping over after dark and collecting 
the reports. In the later months of Isaac Barker's service, a win- 
dow in Peleg Peckham's barn was left open to signal that papers 
were waiting under the stone. 

William Wilkinson, of Providence, secretary to General 
Ezekiel Cornell, a Rhode Island brigadier commanding at 
Tiverton, speaks of handling Chapin's reports "during the Sum- 
mer of 1779." Because Lieutenant Chapin "wrote badly and 

General Clinton's Spies and Some Others 279 

spelled worse/' General Cornell left the task of deciphering to 
his secretary. As Barker wrote a good, clear hand, his written 
reports probably went straight to the general, who sent some of 
them directly to General Gates, Sullivan's successor in the 
Rhode Island command. 

Barker's stake, "crutch/' rails and stone wall sufficed to trans- 
mit full data on "all ships whether armed or not which arrived 
or sailed." The written reports probably dealt with British 
troops. General Gates declared Barker's information of great 

The utmost secrecy was maintained. Even Wilkinson was not 
allowed to know Barker's identity till the war was over; and, 
though Cornell discussed Chapin with Wilkinson, he never 
spoke of him to anyone else and ordered Wilkinson never to 
mention the subject of intelligence in conversation. 

These precautions were so successful that, despite some nar- 
row escapes, Barker was never caught, though he was once 
stopped on the road and questioned by two British cavalry- 
men. He had, however, been wise enough to "talk Tory" loudly 
and constantly to a colonel of the invading army quartered in 
his home, and he usually carried a pass from this officer. 
Though he had failed to carry his pass the night the troopers 
caught him, he was able to persuade them to take him to the 
colonel, who at once released him. To Barker's amusement, his 
guest often discussed the "traitor and spy among us," whom the 
British well knew to exist, but whose identity they never 

Metcalf Bowler, unconsciously playing into Barker's hands, 
was accidentally responsible for providing the Americans with 
better information than he ever sent to Clinton. The privateer 
Diana, of which Bowler was part owner, captured the sloop 
Kipple, commanded by a German named Carl Hegel. Frau 
Hegel and her daughter Gertrude found work as servants at 
the Marquis of Granby Inn, at Newport, much frequented by 
Hessian officers, some of whom were billeted at the farm of 
Judge William Taggart, who had made friends with the little 
German girl. 

The judge picked up what intelligence he could from the 


officers in his farmhouse. How could they guess that another 
and younger William Taggart, probably the judge's son,, was in 
Lieutenant Seth Chapin's whaleboat crew which carried Isaac 
Barker's reports? Meantime the Hessians at the Marquis of 
Granby, not realizing that the maid in the coffeeroom under- 
stood German perfectly, discussed military affairs freely in her 
hearing. Judge Taggart's Negro man, Cudjo, made a point of 
chatting regularly with little Gertrude, who guilelessly repeated 
what she had heard the officers say. From Cudjo, the informa- 
tion passed to Judge Taggart, whose son forwarded it to the 
American camp. It is said that Gertrude Hegel never knew 
what she had been unconsciously doing. 

* * * 


AFTER SIR HENRY CLINTON had assumed command and Major 
John Andre had taken over intelligence, the British began a 
new and vigorous effort to corrupt American leaders. It is prob- 
able that Washington could have had a dukedom for changing 
sides, the difficulty being that he was unswervingly loyal and, 
besides, no Tory dared so much as approach the granite leader 
with a treasonable offer. 

Andre's notes, surviving in Sir Henry Clinton's papers, show 
that he had listed and carefully considered all American gen- 
erals whom he thought corruptible. They also show the ironi- 
cal fact that Benedict Arnold's reputation as a soldier stood so 
high that Andre wholly omitted him from the list! At one time 
Andre was sure that he could bring over Major General Samuel 
H. Parsons to the British side; but he never did; and it is doubt- 
ful that Parsons unconsciously dealing with a British double 
agent who posed as an American spy ever guessed that the man 
was trying to corrupt him. Major General Charles Lee an 
eccentric of whom almost anything could be expected did, as 
a prisoner of war, obligingly draw up a plan of campaign for 
the British; but it told them nothing they could not see for 


themselves; and the British staff themselves thought Lee's plan 
of so little value it was merely filed. 

Within the lower ranks, there were a few traitors, as Ann 
Bates's story shows. Lieutenant Colonel Herman Zedwitz, of 
the ist New York Continental Line, was caught offering intelli- 
gence to the enemy in 1776. William Demont, adjutant of the 
5th Pennsylvania, slipped away to the British with the plans of 
Fort Washington a few weeks later. Major Daniel Hammill, an 
American officer captured in 1777, returned secretly in April, 
1778, accompanied by a soldier who had also turned traitor, in 
an effort vain, of course-to corrupt Brigadier General George 
Clinton, governor of New York, and his brother, Brigadier Gen- 
eral James Clinton. They were caught because an American 
prisoner of war, in some miraculous way, smuggled information 
from Long Island to General Parsons, in Connecticut, that 
Hammill was a spy who had been seen in conference with Sir 
Henry Clinton. 

Occasional veiled references in the British intelligence papers 
show that a few other American junior officers served the enemy 
as spies for indefinite periods, without ever being detected, 
ending their iniquitous careers at last, in complete safety, with 
the honors due to veterans and in an anonymity that still con- 

Benedict Arnold's story is painfully familiar* Arnold was 
resentful over belated promotions, trouble with his military 
accounts, and a court-martial on charges of improper commer- 
cial dealings while American commander in Philadelphia an 
affair in which he was far guiltier than the court-martial ever 
guessed. His characteristic greed for money and personal ex- 
travagance were enhanced after his marriage to the beautiful, 
hysterical young madcap, Peggy Shippen, who was as fond of 
money as her husband, quite as unscrupulous, and conveniently 
well acquainted with Major John Andr, whom she had met 
during the British occupation of Philadelphia. 

In May, 1779, or perhaps some months earlier, Arnold, with- 
out revealing his identity, secretly approached the British with 
an offer of treason. Lengthy negotiations with Andr< followed. 

While still bargaining for the highest price he could get, 

Treason 283 

Arnold tried to prove his value by sending the enemy American 
secret military information, the most important intelligence 
thus betrayed being advance news of the French landing at 
Newport, which the traitor had learned in strictest confidence 
while dining with General Washington. So long as Arnold 
temporarily incapacitated for the field by his twice-wounded leg 
commanded in Philadelphia, messages in code and invisible 
ink were carried to New York by two Philadelphia merchants, 
Joseph Stansbury and Samuel Wallis, and by a British secret 
courier in New Jersey, John Rattoon. 

Arnold concealed his identity so carefully that, although the 
British knew an American general was ready to turn traitor, 
they did not know for a long time which general it was. Clin- 
ton's staff had, however, made studies of the various American 
leaders and soon began to suspect with whom they were dealing. 
Eventually the traitor himself revealed his identity, though his 
real name was always concealed in correspondence. Once Andre 
accidentally wrote "Arn gen" in drafting a letter, but he crossed 
it out, substituted a pseudonym, and kept the draft which 
would have revealed everything in the secret headquarters file. 

After intriguing to secure the command of West Point, solely 
to betray it, Arnold was horrified to have Washington smilingly 
give him command of the "light" troops, the left wing of the 
whole Continental Army, the post of honor. At the news, Peggy 
Arnold had a public fit of hysterics, which she passed off as 
anxiety for her husband's safety. When Arnold protested he was 
still physically unfit to take the field, General Washington, 
much puzzled, but suspecting nothing, granted him the West 
Point command he needed for his treason. Meantime the 
traitor was, so far as possible, converting his American property 
to cash, even transferring property to London, while Clinton 
held the wages of treason on account for him in New York, 
promising more money if the betrayal of West Point succeeded. 
After assuming command at West Point, Arnold continued his 
letters to Andr6, whom he addressed as "Mr. John Anderson/' 
a merchant, disguising all information as mere commercial 

This ruse was so effective that, although one message was 


intercepted, it was ignored as a mere business letter. Shortly 
before the crisis, the British spy, William Heron, asked Arnold 
for a pass to enter the British lines on "business," as genuine 
merchants were sometimes allowed to do. Unaware that he was 
dealing with a fellow traitor and supposing that Heron was an 
American merchant, trying to turn an honest penny or, at any 
rate, a penny-Arnold issued the requested pass, at the same 
time asking Heron to take a letter of his own into New York 
for him. .Read in the light of after events, what Arnold was 
saying is perfectly clear. He was bargaining for cash, referring 
to Andre-Anderson's "commercial plan/' and his own "first 
proposal," which was "not unreasonable/' in view of "risks and 
profits." He also refers to the "quantity of goods at market" 
(men and stores at West Point) and "the number of speculators 
below" (the Continental Army), advising against "an immedi- 
ate purchase" (attack on West Point). 

For some extraordinary reason, though Heron carried the 
letter to New York, he did not deliver it, but brought it back 
to General Samuel H. Parsons in Connecticut, as a suspicious 
document. Parsons opened it, read it, mistook it for an ordinary 
business letter, and simply filed it, instead of sending it to 
headquarters. Under Tallmadge's or McLane's suspicious eyes, 
that "business" letter would have told the whole story in time 
to catch the traitor. 

Preparations for the betrayal of West Point were by this time 
far advanced, and Arnold had done his best to render the forti- 
fications nearly defenseless, by scattering the troops. Clinton 
had his troops ready to move, as American spies noticed, but 
no one, British or American, knew wherethough Andre had 
given an indiscreet hint to his friend, the cavalryman, Lieu- 
tenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe, commanding the Queen's 

Andre's capture, the only thing that prevented a complete 
British victory, was due to his own blunder. He carried a per- 
fectly authentic pass from Arnold, American commander of that 
military area. Deceived by a captured British or Hessian uni- 
form coat one of his captors was wearing, he announced him- 
self as a British officer. Alter that, Arnold's pass merely deepened 

Treason 285 

suspicion. Even though Andre at first thought his captors 
were British, he ought to have presented Arnold's pass at once. 
If they had really been British, he would simply have been 
taken to his own army as a prisonerto be released by the first 
officer who recognized him. Since his captors were In the Amer- 
ican service, they would have honored Arnold's pass, If their 
suspicions had not already been aroused before Andre dis- 
played It. 

The tragic spy might still have escaped but for Major Benja- 
min Tallmadge. Lieutenant Colonel John Jameson, the Vir- 
ginia cavalry officer on duty at the outposts that night, may 
have been a good combat soldier, but his wits were less than 
brilliant; the complexities of secret service were far beyond 
him; and he had the disposition of an army mule. His honest 
blunders almost enabled Arnold to complete the treason, in 
spite of Andre's capture. 

Colonel Elisha Sheldon, of the snd Connecticut Light Dra- 
goons, who would normally have been in command at the 
North Castle advanced post the day Andre was brought in (Sep- 
tember 23, 1780), was absent, facing a court-martial on minor 
disciplinary charges. That left Lieutenant Colonel Jameson- 
far out of his depth as acting commander. Like most officers 
temporarily in an Important command, Jameson was nervous 
and obstinate. The facts that he was a Virginian with Yankee 
troops and that Tallmadge was another Yankee were no help 
at all. 

It was obvious, however, even to Lieutenant Colonel Jame- 
son, when Andre was brought in, that something was radically 
wrong. The mysterious prisoner looked like a British officer 
and had told his captors he was British; but he was out of uni- 
form. He was carrying papers relating to the West Point garri- 
son and defenses. He had tried to conceal them. Yet he had a 
genuine pass, signed by the American commanding general. 

Jameson did what any outpost officer would do in an ordinary 
case. (The trouble was, this case was not ordinary.) He sent 
Andr6, under guard, to the commanding general. But he also 
did one sensible thing the only sensible thing he did that 
night: he sent Andres suspicious documents directly to Gen- 


eral Washington, though even in doing that, he blundered. 
The general, he knew, had gone to Connecticut to confer with 
General Rochambeau about the employment of French troops; 
but, forgetting that General Washington habitually returned 
to headquarters by a route different from the one he had fol- 
lowed on his outward journey, he sent his courier along the 
same roads the commander-in-chief had taken on his trip to 
Hartford. After making this useless ride, the man had to find 
which way the general was returning, then ride back around a 

Late that night Major Tallmadge, returning from a pro- 
longed mounted reconnoissance along the front lines, learned 
that, during the "forenoon," a man "who called himself John 
Anderson" had been caught with suspicious papers. 

Anderson? Tallmadge knew that name! He had himself re- 
ceived orders from Arnold to assist a man named Anderson who 
was expected to bring military intelligence from Manhattan. 
Hurrying to headquarters, the quick-witted Tallmadge at once 
noted several suspicious circumstances. Anderson had been 
arrested as a British spy. Arnold had arranged for Anderson's 
visit. Anderson was carrying full details of West Point and its 
garrison in Arnold's handwriting. He was carrying them in the 
wrong direction. Why had Arnold only ten days before written 
Tallmadge about a man with the same surname, coming from 
New York? 

The American intelligence service had heard rumors that a 
traitor was preparing to sell out; but no one had identified him. 
If the American intelligence service knew this, Tallmadge al- 
most certainly knew it. The incredible truth leaped to his 
mind. (To be fair to the slower wits of Jameson, it should be 
noted that he had not, like Tallmadge, so much information 
and so many reasons for suspicion.) 

"Very much surprised," Tallmadge pointed out to his su- 
perior the "glaring inconsistency" of what he had done. If 
Jameson had been consistent, he would have sent the spy, his 
own report of the capture, and the documents, together, either 
to Washington or to Arnold. If he had sent them to Washing- 
ton, the traitor would have been caught. If he had sent them 

Treason 287 

to Arnold, the American traitor and the British spy could have 
escaped together, in time for Clinton to attack. 

After listening to Tallmadge, Jameson was "greatly agitated." 
He was still more agitated when he heard what Major Tall- 
madge wanted to do. Since Andre, with the story of his capture, 
was already on the way to Arnold, Tallmadge, always resolute, 
suggested to Jameson, "a measure which I wished to adopt, 
offering to take the whole responsibility upon myself, and which 
he deemed too perilous to permit." 

What this scheme was, Tallmadge refused to state when he 
wrote his Memoir and throughout his long life. But, though 
the major never explained what he wanted the irresolute Jame- 
son to do, it is plain enough that he proposed to seize Benedict 
Arnold, even if he was commanding general, and hold him 
prisoner till General Washington arrived. Had Jameson let 
Tallmadge carry out this mutinous act of rank insubordination 
(which was exactly what the situation called for), General Wash- 
ington, arriving next morning and receiving the treasonable 
military correspondence, in Arnold's own handwriting, would 
have applauded both officers. 

Though he could not persuade Jameson to seize the traitor, 
Tallmadge did persuade him to have Andrealready riding 
under guard on his way to Arnold's headquarters brought 
back. But no amount of expostulation could persuade the lieu- 
tenant colonel to delay the report on Andre's capture he had 
sent to Arnold without which Arnold could not have escaped. 

It is a strange thing to think of, that night of September 
23/24, 1780. Arnold lay by the side of his beautiful Peggy, in 
"the treason house" across the Hudson from West Point. The 
die was cast. The papers had been sent on to Sir Henry Clinton, 
secure they thought in Andre's hands. British transports 
would soon be coming up the Hudson to surprise West Point. 
Success and wealth for Benedict Arnold lay only a week or two 
ahead. Beyond that lay but who could tell how far royal grati- 
tude might go? 

Andre, riding as a captive through the night with mounted 
guards around him, knew his danger, but knew, too, there was 
still hope if he could reach Arnold in time, as it seemed for a 


little while he would. General Washington and his staff, as yet 
placidly unaware of what was happening, had halted at Fishkill 
for a quiet night's rest. Far behind the general, somewhere 
along the winding Connecticut roads, through the darkness, 
pounded a horseman, with the evidence of treason. Tallmadge 
fumed. Jameson, one may feel sure, lay wondering uneasily 
whether he had done the right thing and what on earth he 
should have done. He had, in fact, almost lost the American 
Revolution. Few officers in any army or in any war have ever 
made so many wrong decisions in so short a time. 

It is astonishing how often the Americans came close to dis- 
covering Arnold's treason without ever quite doing so. Though 
General Washington had been deceived by Arnold's fiery cour- 
age and brilliance as a combat leader, two Continental officers 
had long since taken a more accurate measure of the man. Lieu- 
tenant Colonel John Brown, taking the precaution of first re- 
signing from the army, had published an attack on him, April 
12, 1777. "Money is this man's god," he wrote, "and to get 
enough of it he would sacrifice his country." 

Major Allan McLane had become suspicious almost as soon 
as the Americans occupied Philadelphia. At that time he can 
hardly have found evidence of treason; but he detected enough 
of Arnold's dubious business enterprises to make him warn 
General Washington, in so many words, that Arnold was not 
to be trusted. Nevertheless, in spite of all warnings, the com- 
mander-in-chief did trust the traitor implicitly, up to the horri- 
fying moment when Jameson's courier, catching up with him 
at last, laid the proofs of treason in his hands. 

A few days after Arnold's flight, Washington sent for McLane, 
who "reminded him of his Suspecting Arnold in 1778." Far 
from resenting his junior's bluntness, the general remarked 
ruefully that if McLane had been in Jameson's place, "Arnold 
would have been secured." 

From Manhattan, Culper, Jr., reported a few days after 
Arnold's arrival, "I was not much surprised at his conduct, for 
it was no more than I expected of him." It is a pity the Man- 
hattan spy did not report his suspicions a little earlier. 

According to Enoch Crosby, who had himself done enough 

Treason 289 

espionage to know what he was talking about, General Nathanael 
Greene, through his own secret service in New York, had already 
learned "that some secret expedition was on foot, at the city of 
New-York; but of its nature and direction, he could not obtain 
the smallest hint." Three secret agents, sent into the city "from 
three different quarters," had neither returned nor reported. 
This, General Greene wrote General Washington on September 
21, 1780, two days before Andre was captured, made him "sus- 
pect some secret expedition is in contemplation, the success of 
which depends altogether on its being kept a secret." He wrote 
in the same vein to the president of Congress. Andre's capture, 
September 23, provided startling confirmation. What Greene's 
spies had detected, without realizing it, was Clinton's prepara- 
tion for swift capture of West Point, as soon as Andre and 
Arnold had made final arrangements for the betrayal. 

Another hint of treason, apparently Arnold's, is supposed to 
have come through a Negro, familiarly known as Black Sam, 
sometimes said to have been a tavern keeper on the Jersey shore, 
probably on Bergen Neck. Listening to the British officers who 
frequented his resort, Black Sam whoever he was heard 
enough to guess that there was a conspiracy of some kind under 
way in the Continental Army. He passed the word to Janetje 
Van Ripen (Mrs. Nicholas Tuers), who had come on a market- 
ing trip and whom Sam knew for a stanch patriot. Janetje 
informed her brother, who took the information to a local 
American headquarters, refusing a proffered cash reward be- 
cause he "did not serve his country for money." Important as 
it was, the intelligence does not seem to have been passed on to 
General Washington or Major Tallmadge, who might have 
used it. 

The story is obscure. Samuel Fraunces, a West Indian mu- 
latto, was also called Black Sam, and the whole incident may 
have taken place at Fraunces's Tavern, on Manhattan, especially 
as Congress after the war made the tavern keeper special grants 
for services to American prisoners of war and "other acts," 
carefully unspecified. The treason exposed may not have been 
Arnold's; but the incident appears to have been one more nar- 
row escape for that unusually lucky scoundrel. 


Andre had dangerously exposed himself before starting, 
though knowledge of his indiscretion if it reached the Ameri- 
cans at all came too late to expose Arnold. If such a warning 
ever arrived, it was given by the Culpers and passed through 
Major Tallmadge's hands. There is, therefore, a remote chance 
that these bits of espionage, mostly due to eavesdropping by 
patriotic private individuals, provided some of the facts Tall- 
madge always refused to talk about. 

Culper, Jr., had a strong personal liking for Major Andre, 
whom he had known while Andre was busy directing British 
espionage from the adjutant general's office and Culper, Jr., 
was just as busy spying for the Americans. It is plain from what 
Culper, Jr., says, that they had met in a very casual, social way, 
perhaps at Townsend's father's home, Raynham Hall, at Oyster 
Bay where Andre was for a time quartered or at Rivington's 
coffeehouse on Manhattan. 

It was mere bad luck that led Andre to the home of the father 
of the principal American spy operating against Andre's own 
intelligence service. Sally Townsend, the sister of Culper, Jr., 
was an attractive girl and Major John Andre delighted in fem- 
inine society. Then, too, Andre's friend, Lieutenant Colonel 
Simcoe, had lodgings in the Townsend house. Though it is 
hardly possible to prove that Culper, Jr., took advantage of this 
incredibly favorable situation for American espionage, it is 
utterly impossible to imagine that he didn't. 

On Valentine's Day, 1779, Simcoe sent Sally Townsend a 
rhymed valentine with the lines (ironic, in view of what hap- 
pened a little later): 

Thou knowest what powerful magic lies 
Within the round of Sarah's eyes. 

Sarah Townsend's eyes were wide open all the time, but Simcoe 
never guessed what kind of magic there was in them. 

Sally is said to have become curious when she saw a supposed 
Whig patriot slip into the Townsend kitchen and drop a letter 
into a little-used cupboard. Saying nothing whatever, Sally kept 
both beautiful eyes on that cupboard. Presently Andr6, a guest 
of the Townsends that evening, came into the kitchen not so 

Treason 291 

odd a thing In eighteenth-century American social life as it 
would be today took the letter without reading it, then sud- 
denly feigned interest in a plate of hot doughnuts. 

Shamelessly patriotic as Lydia Darragh, Sally eavesdropped 
outside Simcoe's room after Andre had entered it. She was al- 
ways sure she heard the words "West Point," repeated more 
than once. She is said to have persuaded Captain Daniel 
Youngs, of the British Army, to carry a letter to her brother in 
New York, ostensibly asking for tea. It is said to have been in 
Tallmadge's hands next morning. If this tale is true it is badly 
documented it is no wonder Major Tallmadge blazed with 
suspicion when he heard "John Anderson" had been captured. 

One other American unquestionably did hear Andre discuss 
his mission before he started, but so obscurely that the snatch 
of overheard chat meant nothing until the whole story came 
out. In 1780, only a little while after Andre's execution, a 
pamphlet appeared, with the proceedings of the board of gen- 
eral officers who sentenced him to death. A copy, owned by the 
Reverend Dr. Samuel Buell, minister at East Hampton during 
the Revolution, was inherited by his grandson, John Lyon 
Gardiner, who had often seen Andre at the home of Colonel 
Abraham Gardiner. On a blank page of the proceedings, the 
grandson told his story: 

Toward the end of August, 1780, a month before the climax, 
Sir Henry Clinton, attended by Andre, came to Gardiner's. A 
woman who lived there, passing through a room, caught a few 
words. She heard "Major Andre say that if he must go he 
would, but he did not expect ever to return." This cannot be 
very accurate, since Andre would have been in no special danger 
on his fatal journey if he had obeyed Clinton's orders not to 
take off his uniform and not to enter the American lines. Some 
reference to the mission was audible; that is about all one can 
accept as fact. 

The Gardiner family had more definite information, how- 
ever. Presently a woman, "perhaps mistress to Col: Simcoe," 
remarked to Mrs. Gardiner, "One of your forts is to be deliv- 
ered up to us soon by one of your Generals." She added that it 
was not New London. This vital information was never re- 


ported, though Mrs. Gardiner had one perfect chance to warn 
General Washington. Soon after she received the information 
she learned that "Major J: Davi/s of the American Army was 
privately in town at M. Hunttings." "Major J: Davi/s" was 
probably not a major at all, but Joshua Davis, one of Caleb 
Brewster's whaleboat men, who had been visiting Long Island 
secretly since 1776. His trips into enemy territory were very 
private indeed; but Mrs. Gardiner managed to have a talk with 
him, to inquire about her son, a Continental Army surgeon. 
In her maternal solicitude, she quite forgot about the imperiled 
fort. "She was on the point of mentioning to Major Davi/s 
what the woman told her but by some means or other did not 
She thought it might be only the woman's foolish talk/' If 
Tallmadge had had any information as definite as that, he could 
have convinced even Jameson. Instead, the tale lingered as an 
unknown note in an obscure pamphlet in a private library, till 
recent years. 

Two other curious human touches have remained unnoticed. 
Sergeant Enoch Crosby, who had spied for John Jay and Na- 
thaniel Saekett in Westchester, could not go to see Andre's 
execution because he was sergeant of the guard that day. Others 
in his company went to behold the ghastly spectacle. 

Both the Culpers, whom Andre might have hanged if he had 
caught them, sent messages to General Washington, deploring 
Andre's death. Culper, Jr., wrote: "1 never felt more sensibly 
for the death of a person whom I knew only by sight and had 
heard converse, than I did for Major Andre. He was a most 
amiable character." Culper, Sr., wrote: "I am sorry for the 
death of Major Andre, but better so than to lose the post." 

The complex plots and counterplots of General Samuel H. 
Parsons and William Heron, both of Redding, Connecticut, are 
a dreadful example of the tangled web that military intelligence 
agents weave when several of them practise to deceive each 
other, on both sides, in several ways, and all at the same time. 
This episode, too, remained a complete secret for a hundred 
years until 1882, when Dr. Thomas Emmett brought to Amer- 
ica two manuscript volumes of Private Intelligence of Sir Henry 

Treason 293 

Clinton, now In the New York Public Library. These revealed 
a tale o treason nearly as bad as Arnold's. The documents 
show, beyond peradventure, that Heron also known as Hiram 
the Spy was regularly supplying secret official information to 
Major Oliver DeLancey, who, after Andre's capture, dealt with 
intelligence for Sir Henry Clinton. They also show that much 
of this information came through General Parsons. 

British secret papers contain a long series of intelligence 
reports from Heron, who, as a member of the Connecticut 
State Assembly, was able to reveal secret information sent to 
that body by the Continental Congress, besides strictly military 
information given him probably through mistaken confidence 
by General Parsons, and other intelligence he could pick up 
for himself. Heron reported to Clinton's headquarters in per- 
son, when he could often openly, under a flag of truce. If his 
reports had to be sent by courier, he protected himself, not 
by the usual single letter-drop, but by two. He himself left 
reports with one intermediary. From this point a courier took 
them to another. From the second intermediary they were 
picked up by a British courier. 

General Parsons may have been deceived because Heron 
was, at the same time, undoubtedly spying for the Americans. 
On his rather frequent personal visits to New York, he had no 
trouble gathering intelligence of the British forces, which he 
promptly turned over to General Parsons, who relayed it to 
General Washington. 

It is not hard to classify Heron. The crafty fellow was plainly 
a traitor to both sides, the usual self-interested double agent. 
If either side had discovered what he was really doing, either 
side would cheerfully have hanged him; but neither British 
nor Americans ever so much as suspected this shrewd and care- 
ful rascal. When the Americans won at last, he was able to 
continue his role as a prominent Connecticut citizen, a worthy 
and patriotic legislator, ever laboring for the public good an 
illusory image of the man which remained wholly undisturbed 
until Clinton's intelligence papers appeared in 1882. 

"Hiram's" reports at first sight seem to implicate General 
Parsons, whose war record is, in all other respects, that of an 


ardent and able patriot. There is no doubt that Sir Henry 
Clinton in 1781 had high hopes of finding in Parsons a second 
Arnold, and of finding as many additional Arnolds as he could. 
Neither is there any doubt that Parsons did let slip to Heron 
(who triumphantly sent it straight on to Sir Henry) informa- 
tion about the Continental Army and its commander's plans, 
which seemed important at the time. On the other hand, there 
are several weighty arguments for Parsons's loyalty. The weight- 
iest is the plain fact that the only evidence against him is in 
Heron's reports to the British. No man can be condemned on 
the statements of that double-barreled rogue, who had every 
reason to lie to his British employers about his personal in- 
fluence with a senior American general officer. It is also pos- 
sible that Parsons was deliberately planting false or deceptive 
information; and it is clear that he kept much important in- 
telligence inviolably secret. He thought Heron a valuable 
American agent and, in a letter to Washington, in 1782 listed 
the information Heron had supplied, praising his character and 
ability. Everything in Parsons's own record except the secret, 
boastful and dubious reports of the double-dealing spy points 
to stalwart and unswerving loyalty to the United States. 

About another successful American traitor, there is no such 
doubt. Samuel Wallis, a wealthy and respectable Philadelphia 
merchant whose summer home at Muncy, Pennsylvania, on the 
West Branch of the Susquehanna, became an important British 
intelligence center concealed his treason quite as successfully 
as Heron and quite as long. Andre's ironic code name for 
Wallis's house was "Peter" Peter, too, denied his allegiance. 
Like Heron, Wallis was never suspected until the Clinton papers 
became available. 

In some way Arnold discovered that Wallis was a British 
agent. Perhaps the two rogues were brought together by the 
British secret agent, Joseph Stansbury, a Philadelphia dealer 
in glassware, china and crockery, and also a secret courier for 
Andre. A surviving document shows that Wallis had known 
Stansbury for years, since he had been buying bottles, china 
and stone quart jugs from him as early as March 19, 1776. 
(There was, however, nothing suspicious in that. General Wash- 

Treason 295 

ington bought cut-glass vinegar cruets and salt cellars from 
Stansbury only a few days later.) 

Arnold though quite without justification soon became 
suspicious. How could he be sure the courier was really de- 
livering the messages Arnold gave him? The British were not 
responding as Arnold had expected. Stansbury brought back 
only oral messages. Was he just making them up? 

To find out, Arnold sent Wallis as a second secret emissary. 
To Andre he wrote, deploring the possible treachery of Stans- 
bury and some other courier, who cannot be identified. He 
feared "the persons we have employed have been deceiving us." 
By this time Arnold was involved in such a tangle of deceit 
that he could not trust Wallis, either the man he had 
sent to check up on another man he did not trust! He urged 
Andre to have Sir Henry Clinton personally threaten Wallis 
with British "resentment in case he abuses the confidence placed 
in him." 

Samuel Wallis had been a rather desultory British secret agent 
long before this. Early in the war, he had been, in some un- 
known way, "extremely useful to General Howe"; and he 
returned eagerly to British espionage when he learned of Gen- 
eral John Sullivan's projected march into the New York wilder- 
ness, against the Iroquois. 

General Washington had decided to send Sullivan out to 
ravage the Iroquois towns because the Indian and Tory mas- 
sacres at Wyoming and Cherry Valley, in July and November, 
1778, had left no choice but retaliation. To keep the Pennsyl- 
vania frontier secure in his rear, the commander-in-chief had 
to knock the Senecas and other hostile Iroquois out of the 
war entirely, without injuring friendly Iroquois, like the Onei- 
das. By the early part of 1779, General Sullivan was deep in 
preparations for an advance up the North Branch of the Sus- 
quehanna and thence westward across New York state. 

While these preparations were under way, Wallis, at Muncy, 
on the river's West Branch, was in a perfect position to spy 
on Sullivan. For years, he had spent his summers in the Sus- 
quehanna frontier country, where he was active in land deals; 
and he was well acquainted with Iroquois New York, especially 


the western New York territory of the hostile Senecas. He was 
as Arnold's friend, Joseph Stansbury, correctly told Sir Henry 
"better acquainted with the Indian country than almost any 
other person." Wallis had begun trading up the West Branch 
of the Susquehanna and speculating in lands there very early. 
By 1769 he had built his summer home, a superb example of 
the early Pennsylvania stone house, which still stands near 
Muncy. As early as 1774, he had made a surveying trip to the 
Pennsylvania-New York border and was busy bringing in sur- 
veyors and dealing in lands all through the war. 

Fortunately for the American cause, however, Wallis was not 
so well acquainted with the Indian country into which Sullivan 
would march as was another and more loyal Pennsylvanian 
who, by March, 1779, had completed a secret visit to the Indian 
country, on orders from General Washington, himself. This 
was Gershom Hicks, the son of pioneer parents living at Water 
Street, a village in Blair County, Pennsylvania. Captured with 
his family in boyhood, he had lived six or seven years among 
the Indians, had learned the Delaware language, and had gained 
some knowledge of the closely related Shawnee. Returning to 
the settlements and becoming "servant" to an Indian trader, 
he had again been captured, this time by Shawnees, in Ohio. 
Escaping, he reached Fort Pitt in April, 1764, only to find that 
British officers there thought he was spying for the Indians. 
General Gage said in so many words he would like to see him 
hanged; but Hicks managed to clear himself and went back 
into land dealing, buying three hundred acres in Bedford 
County, Pennsylvania, from Samuel Wallis, in 1773. 

When the Revolution broke out, Gershom Hicks served in 
the Pennsylvania Militia and, in view of his special qualifica- 
tions, was assigned to special duty as scout and interpreter. 
Early in 1779, he was absent from his unit "on command," by 
order of General Washington himself, and he went into the 
Iroquois country about March i, or earlier. 

Sometime in that same month, he appears as a mysterious 
figure coming down the North Branch of the Susquehanna 
from the Iroquois country. A letter from Northumberland, 
Pennsylvania, in March, 1779, but without any indication of 

Treason 297 

the exact date, contains orders from Colonel William Patterson, 
commanding at Fort Augusta (Sunbury, Pennsylvania), to Colo- 
nel Zebulon Butler, commanding at Fort Wyoming (Wilkes- 
Barre, Pennsylvania). 

Mr. Lemmon goes to your post, to wait the return, and 
take into his care Gershom Hicks, who is not to be exam- 
ined or searched until he goes before his Excellency Gen. 
Washington. I inclose you his Excellency's letter. Be care- 
ful that your people, who are out on duty, or fatigue, re- 
ceive Hicks, who may appear painted, and in a canoe. His 
regimentals [i.e., uniform] I have sent by Mr. Lemmon. 

Arrangements to send him straight to Washington were evi- 
dently made about the last week in March, for on March 25, 
1779, a pass was issued: "This will serve as a passport for Ger- 
shom Hicks who may appear in Indian Dress, and the officer 
commanding will receive him. W. Patterson." 

General Edward Hand, on March 29, reported that Hicks 
had journeyed "from Wyalusing to Niagara & Back" that is, 
he had crossed New York from east to west. Hand's complaint 
that he "affects total Ignorance of the country" may mean only 
that Hicks was a discreet secret agent, who meant to report 
directly to the commander-in-chief. He did, however, talk more 
freely to Colonel William Patterson, in Cumberland County, 
Pennsylvania, about Indians and British troops at Chemung, 
just over the New York border, since Patterson was in charge 
of his secret mission. Hicks had been able to penetrate into 
Indian country, entirely undiscovered, until he was within 
half a mile of Chemung; and thereafter he had no trouble in 
talking openly with the enemy. His most important discovery 
was that the British had no supplies or munitions at Chemung 
and that a small fort, near it, was unoccupied. In other words, 
the enemy had no advanced base from which to attack Sullivan 
early in his march. 

Colonel Patterson paid Hicks $300 and expenses, meantime 
placing Mrs. Hicks and the children with his own family, so 
as "to have him under my Eye ready for the same services." 
But General Washington objected to expenses "as large as in 


Hicks's case" and that seems to have ended Gershom Hicks's 
career in espionage. 

His exploit is of interest because it shows General Washing- 
ton extending his intelligence net into Indian country; because 
it was carried out, undetected, beneath the very nose of the 
British spy, Samuel Wallis, operating at that very time along 
the other branch of the Susquehanna; and because, when the 
war was over, the American spy, Hicks, went to work for the 
British spy, Wallis! 

Gershom Hicks was only one of several American spies ex- 
pected to emerge from the Iroquois country by way of the 
North Branch of the Susquehanna. On March i, General Wash- 
ington had given Colonel Zebulon Butler, at Wyoming, orders: 
"Persons presenting themselves at your post with passports 
signed by Colonel William Patterson, are to be suffered to 
pass and repass without interruption, and without search of 
their Canoes or baggage; they are farther to be supplied with 
five days provision on their applying for it; and you will afford 
them any other assistance their circumstances may require." 

The same orders were sent to Fort Augusta (Sunbury, Penn- 
sylvania) and to Fort Willis (location now unknown). General 
Philip Schuyler received constant intelligence from a few 
friendly Indian and French spies in Central New York, through 
a Negro courier. Obviously the Americans had sent several 
additional spies into the Iroquois country; but there is nothing 
to indicate that any of them, except Gershom Hicks, lived to 
tell the tale. 

Just as this bold fellow was emerging from the wilderness, 
a ring of British spies within the American armed forces dis- 
covered General Washington's plans for Sullivan's expedition 
discovered them, indeed, before the general had had a chance 
to complete them. From their home in Pennsylvania, Colonel 
William Rankin, of the Northumberland County Militia; one 
of his captains; and one other militia colonel had for some 
time been secretly in touch with Sir Henry Clinton, through 
the Germantown (Pennsylvania) Tory printer, Christopher 
Saur, now a refugee in New York. Rankin's brother-in-law, 
Andrew Fiirstner, who had been a British secret agent for two 

Treason 299 

years or more, carried the conspirators' reports to New York, 
where Saur turned them over to Clinton. In March, 1779, this 
spy ring sent the British word: "It is in Contemplation to send 
some Continental troops against Col. [John] Butler" the chief 
leader of Indian guerrillas in New York state. The plotters 
hoped to put one of their Tory group in command of the militia 
that was to accompany Sullivan! 

Under such circumstances, the British needed Wallis's knowl- 
edge of northern Pennsylvania and New York badly; and in 
May, 1779, he offered to resume his services as a secret agent. 
He would now be specially valuable to the enemy, because his 
countrymen, by this time, trusted him completely. In 1777, 
he had "taken & submitted the affirmation of Allegiance and 
Fidelity" to the patriot cause; and the official pass issued to 
this British spy describes him as "Friendly to the Liberty of 
America." People told him everything. A friend in Sunbury 
wrote him about the Sullivan expedition June 13, 1779- By 
July, Joseph Stansbury was promising, on Wallis's behalf, that 
if Clinton wanted "a perfect knowledge of everything relating 
to Sullivan's army," Wallis would send "exact accounts thereof 
every week or fortnight." 

Wallis proposed to have an unnamed friend of his own volun- 
teer in Sullivan's army, so that, from within Sullivan's own 
ranks, this secret informant could send back intelligence to 
Wallis, who, through Stansbury, would pass it on to Andre. 
This immediately interested intelligence officers at Clinton's 
headquarters, who were so deeply concerned over Sullivan's 
doings that, even after he had returned to the Susquehanna, 
they sent one of their star secret agents, the redoubtable James 
Moody himself, to ferret out fuller information perhaps as 
a check on the double-dealing Wallis. 

Wallis's most impudent accomplishment was supplying the 
Americans with a map of the Indian country, deliberately made 
incorrect, at the same time promising Sir Henry Clinton "a cor- 
rected copy of this drawing." 

"Intelligence concerning Sullivan will be acceptable and the 
drawing we are anxious to receive," replied Major Andr, 


So far as this falsified map was concerned, the Americans had 
unconsciously played directly into Wallis's hands. In February, 
1779, General Washington had asked Joseph Reed, president 
of Pennsylvania, formerly one of his own staff officers, to get 
maps for Sullivan's use. Reed, aware of Wallis's knowledge of 
the country but quite unaware of what the man was really 
doing, turned naturally to this respected Philadelphia merchant 
and asked the British spy to make the Americans "a drawing 
of the country and to assist them in their plan of an Indian 

Before long, the secret courier, Joseph Stansbury, was report- 
ing at British headquarters that Wallis had already drawn the 
map (incorrectly) and sent it to General Washington. Sullivan's 
expedition, Stansbury told the British, would be "formed on 
it." Fortunately, Sullivan's war plans were really formed on 
a great deal of other information, which General Washington 
had himself helped assemble by sending an extremely search- 
ing questionnaire to the three generals best acquainted with 
the area and probably to various others who might know the 
country. Wallis, with the very worst intentions, never did 
the damage he had hoped. 

He must have carried out his scheme, though there is no 
proof of it in surviving documents. His correct map is not 
among Sir Henry Clinton's voluminous papers; his false map 
is not among General Washington's or General Sullivan's 
papers; but there are reports in the Clinton papers from a spy, 
who may have been the "volunteer" Wallis hoped to infiltrate 
among Sullivan's troops. There are only two of these, both 
obviously sent by a British agent accompanying the expedition. 
Wallis can hardly have been responsible for other information 
about Sullivan's march, which the British secured through a 
Brunswick dragoon, who had deserted from the German to the 
American forces and then deserted againthis time to the 

There was one spy scare during the expedition; and Sulli- 
van ordered an investigation into the suspected presence of a 
British agent named John Brown; but nothing further is known 
of this episode. 

Treason 301 

The British used Wallis in another scheme, which, fortunately 
for America, was never carried out. The enemy contemplated 
for some time another Indian raid into Pennsylvania like that 
at Wyoming, but on a larger scale which was to be supported 
by a formidable rising of armed Tories in Pennsylvania and 
adjoining states. Wallis's summer home at Muncy was to be 
an intelligence center for communication with Joseph Brant, 
the Mohawk chief, and his Indians. This was meant as a counter 
to Sullivan's expedition, for a friend wrote Wallis in June, 
1779, that Sullivan's troops could not succeed, as Indians were 
"coming down to cut off the supplys before they reach Wyom- 

Though Brant's raid never took place, plans for it went so 
far that Andre had an unknown Tory leader standing by, ready 
to act, as soon as a prearranged password was sent to Wallis's 
house. Then, said Andre, the Tories must get in touch with 
Brant, or whoever else commanded the Indians at the moment. 
The Tories were to "give him information and when he medi- 
tates a blow second him by a sudden meeting of loyalists at a 
particular place which you may concert, to join and strike 
with him, or by intercepting convoys, burning magazines, 
spiking cannon, breaking down bridges, or otherwise as you 
shall see expedient." 

Andre's cheerful little scheme may have been related to still 
another British plot, which likewise failed. This was to be a 
Tory rising in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, which 
would destroy the American arsenal at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 
and then seize control of large areas in the three states, with 
the help of Colonel John Butler, Tory commander at the 
Wyoming Massacre. This scheme was being planned by Colonel 
William Rankin, supposedly a patriot officer. In the end, it 
came to nothing; and Wallis's own later espionage, though it 
went on for several years more, led to no striking results. He 
did, however, continue to do business for Benedict Arnold long 
after the treason was discovered. The only document among his 
own personal papers that connects him with the treason is 
Peggy Arnold's receipt for money collected within the American 
lines. It might have hanged him; but it was a business record; 
and, for Samuel Wallis, business was always business. 


* * 1 


The Mysterious Adventure of 
Sergeant Major Champe 

THE PERSONAL BITTERNESS of General Washington toward the 
traitor Arnold was without parallel in the life of that magnani- 
mous man. Though the commander-in-chief had to approve 
many death sentences, Arnold was the only man he ever really 
wanted to hang. So savage was his resentment that Lafayette, 
marching south against Arnold's Tories, carried positive orders: 
the traitor, if captured, would go instantly to the gallows. 

Though General Washington could not formally demand 
that the British return Arnold who, in their view, as a rebel 
returning to his allegiance, was entitled to protectionat least 
three unofficial hints were given Clinton that Andr, his warm 
personal friend, would be spared, if Arnold was handed over. 
It is impossible to tell whether Washington, who pitied Andr6, 
secretly instigated these offers or whether they were made on 
the initiative of tactful subordinates who guessed the private 
wishes of their chief. When the enemy sent representatives to 
confer under a flag of truce, General Nathanael Greene hinted 
to General James Robertson how Andr6 might be saved. But 
the British officer answered only "with a look." Later,, the 

The Mysterious Adventure of Sergeant Major Champe 303 

British found, slipped in among the papers given them, the same 
proposal, written in a hand that may be Alexander Hamilton's 
and signed with initials that may be either "AW or possibly 

At about the same time, a third unofficial suggestion was 
quietly passed on by Captain Aaron Ogden, a New Jersey officer. 
Ogden received orders, not from Washington, but from Laf- 
ayette, to enter the British post at Paulus Hook (Jersey City) 
under flag of truce, arranging the time of his arrival so that he 
could spend the night with the British. He was instructed not 
to try to take the enemy's commander aside (that might be 
noticeable), but to seize any chance for private conversation 
that might naturally arise. 

Should such an opportunity come, the captain was to promise 
Andre's release if Sir Henry Clinton would allow Washington 
to lay hands on Arnold. The story, as Ogden set it down 
long afterward, implies that Clinton was not being asked to 
surrender the traitormerely to connive at his capture. 

The American was hospitably received at the British post, 
where he dined and was offered a bed for the night. Sitting 
next to the post commander, as guest of the British mess, he 
found it easy to give him the message. The redcoat rose at 
once, left the table, and set out for New York City. Within 
two hours he was back, with word from Sir Henry himself: 
"A deserter was never given up." Captain Ogden was told that 
a horse would be ready to take him back to his own lines in 
the morning. He spent a quiet night with the enemy and, 
when morning came, departed. 

Whoever may have been responsible for Ogden's mission, 
General Washington, if he knew of it, can have had but slight 
hope of its success. Another effort would have to be made. 

When the general, after the appalling revelation at West 
Point, returned to headquarters at Tappan, he sent for Light 
Horse Harry Lee, father of the great Confederate. Though 
this was only a few days after Andres arrest, probably about 
September 26, 1780, Washington may already have received the 
written plan for recapturing Arnold, which Lee drew up with- 
out dating it, and which is now among the Washington papers. 


Lee found the commander-in-chlef deep in paper work, was 
offered a seat, handed a bundle o documents, and told to read 
them. They showed that another American major general, 
"whose name was not concealed," was certainly as guilty as 
Arnold himself. The suspected general though Lee does not 
say so was Arthur St. Glair. The charge against him is now 
known to be false, though the enemy had been able to place 
a treacherous junior officer as a spy on his staff. This is known 
because, on May 13, 1780, a British spy in Philadelphia wrote 
Clinton that he had "settled matters" with an American officer 
who would soon be joining St. Glair's staff. Just about the time 
of Lee's interview with Washington, or perhaps a little later, 
came an alarming report from the spy, John Vanderhoven, in 
New York, which seemed to confirm suspicion of the general 
himself. Vanderhoven had learned that there was another 
"cut-throat general" in the American Army. 

Lee protested. St. Clair was a man of unblemished record, 
who had always seemed flawlessly loyal. 

Washington pointed out, bitterly, that "the same suggestion 
applied to no officer more forcibly than a few days ago it would 
have done to General Arnold." Then he explained his dual 
plan: he wanted St. Clair either cleared or arrested. He wanted 
to save Andre and he wanted to hang Arnold. To do either, 
he would have to kidnap Arnold first; and to kidnap Arnold 
would require some delicate plotting. 

"While my emissary is engaged in preparing means for the 
seizure of Arnold, the guilt of others can be traced; and the 
timely delivery of Arnold to me, will possibly put it into my 
power to restore the amiable and unfortunate Andre to his 

Then a few specific instructions: 

Arnold was "not to be hurt," above all, not killed. General 

Washington felt so strongly about this that he gave Lee definite 

orders "that he be permitted to escape if to be prevented only 

-by killing him, as his public punishment is the sole object 

in view." 

With due respect, the young major he was only twenty-four 
pointed out to his general certain difficulties. Such a task 

The Mysterious Adventure of Sergeant Major Champe 305 

"required a combination of qualities not easily to be found 
unless in a commissioned officer "; yet to ask an officer to desert 
was quite impossible. His legion had, however, a sergeant 
major "in all respects qualified for the delicate and adventurous 
project." He was a good man (else he would never have become 
a sergeant major under Light Horse Harry), "yet it was very 
probable that the same difficulty would occur in his breast, 
to remove which would not be easy/' 

Who was the man? 

Sergeant Major John Champe, a Virginian from Loudon 
County, about twenty-three or twenty-four. 

What was he like? 

"Rather above the common size" said Lee, "full of bone 
and muscle; with a saturnine countenance, grave, thoughtful 
and taciturn of tried courage and inflexible perseverance." 

"The very man for the business!" said the general. If Champe 
showed scruples, tell him that "going to the enemy by the in- 
stigation and at the request of his officer, was not desertion, 
although it appeared to be so." Tell this to the sergeant major 
"as coming from him," said the general, dismissing his major 
with written instructions, two letters for Champe to deliver to 
secret agents in New York, and cash for expenses. 

Back with his cavalry, Light Horse Harry sent for his sergeant 

"What could not but be highly pleasing," his commanding 
officer told Champe, "he would be the instrument of saving the 
life of Major Andre" who, from the first, had won the hearts 
of the men who soon would hang him. Otherwise, Andre 
would shortly be brought before a court, "the decision of 
which could not be doubted." 

No doubt, in the first stages of the plot, one motive was to 
save Andr; but the British intelligence records show that 
Champe did not reach Manhattan until three weeks after the 
execution, which Washington felt had to be carried out 

Champe, Major Lee went on, must also consider the suspicion 
now resting on an American general. "He would bring to light 
new guilt, or he would relieve innocence (as was most prob- 


able) from distrust; quieting the torturing suspicions which now 
harrowed the mind of Washington/ 7 Would John Champe 
undertake it? "Champe listened with deep attention, and with 
a highly-excited countenance; the perturbations of his breast 
not being hid even by his dark visage." 

Champe was "charmed with the plan." Besides, "no soldier 
exceeded him in respect and affection for the commander-in- 
chief." But, as his commander had expected, the idea of posing 
as a deserter was too much. He demurred at "the ignominy of 
desertion, to be followed by the hypocrisy of enlisting with the 
enemy/' Skillfully, Lee argued these doubts away. There was 
no reason to feel such scruples. The major "considered himself 
and corps highly honored by the general's call upon him for a 
soldier capable and willing to execute a project so tempting 
to the brave/' In the end, Champe consented. 

When he did, Major Lee gave him General Washington's 
written instructions. Since it would not be safe to carry such 
papers into the enemy's country, Champe "took notes so dis- 
guised as to be understood only by himself." Lee then gave him 
the two letters he had received from Washington, both with 
false addresses, so that, in case Champe was caught, the secret 
agents to whom they were addressed would still be safe. He 
reiterated one other point emphasized by the commander-in- 
chief: "forbearing to kill Arnold in any condition of things." 

The next step was to arrange the desertion, and in this Major 
Lee spent a good deal of time. As he had long been in touch 
with the secret service, he knew a man in Newark perhaps 
Caleb Bruen who, though a loyal American, had "connexions 
with the enemy" that would help Champe. Lee promised him 
one hundred guineas, five hundred acres of land and three 
Negroes, if he would open a line of communication between 
Manhattan and Newark and would be ready in Bergen Woods 
when the sergeant brought the kidnaped traitor across the 
Hudson. Champe had orders to stay at his post, "however un- 
favorable the prospects may appear at first." To make sure 
everything was arranged, Lee himself made a trip to Newark 
the day before the "deserter" was to flee, 

Now the actual flight had to be planned. It would be difficult 

The Mysterious Adventure of Sergeant Major Champe 307 

for Champe to get away unless Lee took several officers Into 
his confidence, and he was determined "that no third person 
be admitted into the virtuous conspiracy, as two appear to me 
to be adequate to the execution of it." The cavalry camp had 
the usual interior guards and outguards. Beyond his lines, 
American infantry and cavalry patrols were always alert. Guer- 
rillas swarmed through the country, almost to Paulus Hook, 
where Champe expected to cross to Staten Island. He would 
have to stage-manage his own escape. Lee could give no help, 
lest he appear to be "privy to the desertion, which opinion 
getting to the enemy would involve the life of Sergeant 
Champe." The thing had to appear completely genuine. 
Champe would have to take the same chances as a real deserter. 

Pocketing three guineas it would not do to have too much 
money, if the British searched him Champe asked his com- 
mander to hold back pursuit as long as possible. To get a 
fair start, he would need time, since he would have to "zigzag 
in order to avoid the patrols." 

Champe went off to get his horse, cloak, "valise" (probably 
a saddlebag), and the legion's orderly book the manuscript 
record of orders then kept in every headquarters. It would look 
well for a deserting sergeant major to bring along official papers. 
"He drew his horse from the picket, and mounting him put 
himself upon fortune." 

Lee tried to get some sleep. "Useless attempt!" he notes. 

Within half an hour, an agitated officer of the day was at 
his commander's quarters. By sheer misfortune, Champe, al- 
most at the start, had encountered one of those far too eager 
beavers, loyal, alert and zealous, who make so much trouble 
for their own intelligence services. One of the men in a 
patrol had met a suspicious-looking American dragoon, "who, 
being challenged, put spur to his horse and escaped, though 
instantly pursued." 

Light Horse Harry could have wished his command a little 
less efficient, for one night at least. But the only thing he 
could do was to assume the role of the bumbling, fussy, obstruc- 
tive kind of commander, for the more he entangled the pursuit 
in red tape, the better for Champe. Major Lee began by pre- 


tending to resent the interruption. He was "extremely fa- 
tigued." Besides, he did not quite understand what it was all 
about. When he could not pretend to misunderstand any 
longer, Major Lee began to pretend doubt of the whole story. 
How could the man in the patrol be sure he had really seen 
a dragoon? 

"Who can the fellow that was pursued be?" yawned the major. 
"A countryman, probably." 

Captain Carnes must have stared in astonishment at his su- 
perior. This was not the usually keen and decisive Light Horse 
Harry Lee. Still, the major might be only half awake. 

"No," replied Carnes. "The patrol sufficiently distinguished 
him to know that he was a dragoon." In fact, he looked like 
one of Lee's own men. The major must have groaned inwardly 
at that. Captain Carnes was another far too eager beaver. And 
Champe was out there somewhere, in the night, desperately 
trying to keep his own army from ruining his mission. 

Since all he could do now was to keep up his original pose, 
Light Horse Harry ridiculed the mere idea. One of his men 
desert? Impossible! His legion was a corps d'eliteonly one 
desertion in the whole war. But none of this convinced the 
embarrassingly efficient officer of the day. An American dragoon 
really had been seen on his way to the enemy, Captain Carnes 
insisted. He was sure of his facts. Indeed, the alert Captain 
Carnes already had a squadron falling in. That was standard 
operating procedureor, as they called it in the Revolution, 
"established usage on similar occasions." 

The captain dashed off to see about that squadron. Briskly 
he returned to report. 

"The scoundrel was known, and was no less a person than 
the sergeant major, who had gone off with his horse, baggage, 
arms and orderly book." The orderly book might or might not 
convince the enemy if Champe ever reached thembut it had 
already convinced Captain Carnes. His pursuit party was ready. 

Still playing for time, Lee pooh-poohed the whole idea. 
Champe a deserter? Impossible! The sergeant major had an 
"excellent character." So fine a soldier could not possibly be 
a deserter. Perhaps he had "taken the liberty to leave camp 

The Mysterious Adventure of Sergeant Major Champ e 309 

with a view to personal pleasure." Very reprehensible, said the 
commanding officer. But after all, Captain, such an example 
was "too often set by the officers themselves." 

While Games fumed in respectful silence, and Champe rode 
for his life, Major Henry Lee took a great deal of time delivering 
a long-winded and excessively dull lecture on discipline and 
morale. He deplored the laxness that had grown up in his 
command, "destructive as it was of discipline, opposed as it 
was to orders, and disastrous as it might prove to the corps in 
the course of service." 

In the end, Lee had to order the pursuit; but not before he 
had put on another magnificent display of sheer incompetence. 
Who would command the chase? The duty lieutenant? Non- 
sense, fellow wouldn't do at all. The major wanted Cornet 
Middleton. Go get Cornet Middleton. Major Lee wanted 
Cornet Middleton in command. 

It was far on in the night. Cornet Middleton would be sound 
asleep. He would have to get into uniform, get his arms, and 
have his horse brought from the picket line. A gratifying waste 
of time, when every moment counted. Not only might this 
waste of time be made to reach nearly half an hour; there was 
a further advantage in selecting Middleton. Lee was counting 
on "the tenderness of Middleton's disposition, which he hoped 
would lead to the protection of Champe.' 7 

Cornet Middleton, alas! to his commanding officer's intense 
disgust, was a third eager beaver. Within ten minutes, he was 
reporting at the commanding officer's quarters. Written orders 
took up a little more time. There was no need of them, but 
anything to delay that zealous young subaltern, Cornet Middle- 

Champe must not be harmed: "Bring him alive, that he may 
suffer in the presence of the army; but kill him if he resists.*' 
(Champe would surrender, if overtaken. He would hardly 
fight his own comrades, merely for stage effect.) 

But, of course, it would take a few minutes to give the cornet 
oral, in addition to his written, orders. Lee fussed with endless 
trivial details. He told Middleton, at great length, in which 
direction he ought to pursue. He must "take care of the horse 


and accoutrements if recovered/' The cornet must look out 
for the enemy a fact of which any cavalry officer, operating be- 
tween the lines is well enough aware! Finally the major dis- 
missed him, hypocritically wishing him successthat took up a 
little more time. 

Lee had fussed about so long that Champe now had an hour's 
start. Would it be enough? The major, "very unhappy," spent 
a sleepless night. 

Rain, which had by this time begun to fall, made the situ* 
tion worse. The hoofprints of Champe's horse showed plainly 
in the moist earth. Worse still, the prints were unmistakable, 
for the legion's horses, shod by its own farriers, had foreshoes 
with a special mark. This was meant to help Lee's troopers 
recognize one another's trails and was often very helpful but 
not that night! 

To enhance this comedy of well-intentioned errors, no other 
horseman happened to be traveling the road that Sergeant Ma- 
jor Champe had taken. His pursuers were delayed only a little 
during the night by dismounting to look for tracks, "the impres- 
sion of which was an unerring guide." When dawn came, the 
pursuit quickened. There was still only one trail in the soft 
earth of the road. 

As Cornet Middleton's detachment came over the crest of 
a hill at Three Pigeons, some miles north of Bergen, they 
saw their quarry, half a mile ahead. Champe saw his pursuers 
at the same instant. 

Middleton decided to do something clever. Beyond Three 
Pigeons, a short cut ran through the woods to a bridge just 
below Bergen. The legion, whose troopers reconnoitered this 
part of New Jersey continually, knew the ground perfectly. 
The cornet detached a sergeant, via the short cut to the bridge. 
The sergeant would block the bridge. The cornet would chase 
Champe down the road. He would thus be "closed" between 
the two parties. 

Sergeant Major Champe, however, knew all about the short 
cut, too, and guessed what Middleton would do. Instead of 
now trying to reach Paulus Hook, he rode through Bergen, 
straight for the Hudson, hoping for "rescue" by two armed 

The Mysterious Adventure of Sergeant Major Champe 311 

British galleys, lying in the river. By choosing "beaten streets" 
through the village, he broke his trail at last. 

The cornet, seeing his error, deployed his men in the muddy 
roads beyond the village, picked up the trail, and again gave 
chase. Knowing now he would have to swim for it, Champe 
paused long enough to lash his "valise" to his shoulders, which 
brought the pursuit within two or three hundred yards. 

The final scene of the desertion was most impressive. As 
he neared the river, Champe saw the galleys. Dismounting, he 
plunged through the marshes along the bank, and swam toward 
the little ships. 

On the British craft there was a stir. A fugitive? Pursued by 
the greencoats of the rebel legion? Opening fire to drive off the 
rebels, the galleys sent off a boat to rescue the swimmer, who 
came aboard, dripping but triumphant, still with his "valise" 
and orderly book. He was soon on his way to New York with 
a letter from the naval commander, "stating the circumstances 
he had seen." No "escape" could have been more convincing. 
Captain Carnes and Cornet Middleton had helped more than 
they knew. Sergeant Major Champe received a warm welcome. 
There was no suspicion. A British naval officer had seen 
Champe all but killed in his praiseworthy effort to return to 
his allegiance and to serve his king. 

At three that afternoonthe Virginian Lee says "in the eve- 
ning" Middleton rode back into the American camp. The 
troops, seeing Champe's horse, set up a shout: "The scoundrel 
was killed." Major Lee, shocked and grieved, emerged from his 
tent, reproaching himself "with the blood of the high-prized, 
faithful, and intrepid Champe." Then he saw the "looks of 
disappointment" of the crestfallen cornet and his troopers, and 
his heart leaped up. "Lee's joy was now as full as, the moment 
before, his torture had been excruciating." 

"Everything had gone perfectly. However unconsciously, 
Cornet Middleton had been a big help. His spectacular pursuit 
under naval gunfire had accidentally added artistic verisimili- 
tude to Champe's narrative, which the British might otherwise 
have found bald and unconvincing. Lee sent the good news 
on to General Washington, who was "sensibly affected." The 


plot moved ahead like clockwork. Almost at once came a report, 
written in a "disguised hand/' from the imperturbable sergeant 
major. He had made contact with one of the American intelli- 
gence men on Manhattan Island. 

Immediately on entering New York, the sergeant major had 
properly reported himself to a British officer, at the same time 
presenting the letter describing his "rescue," which the captain 
of the galley had given him. The moment the British discovered 
that this unique deserter was sergeant major of the Partisan 
Legion "heretofore remarkable for their fidelity" he was hur- 
ried to the acting adjutant general, who had replaced Andre, 
who had by this time been hanged. 

Under interrogation, Champe told a harrowing tale of dis- 
affection among the Americans, "in consequence of Arnold's 
example"-a nicely chosen word! Champe dwelt on the "dis- 
contents which agitated the corps to which he had belonged." 
Yes, indeed, sir, he was sure that "if the temper was properly 
cherished, Washington's ranks would not only be greatly 
thinned, but that some of his best corps would leave him/' 
The British interrogator must have beamed. Champe was 
shrewdly telling him just what he wanted to hear. 

Intelligence sent its prize straight to Sir Henry Clinton, who 
was affability itself. Sir Henry had an eager, hour-long chat 
with General Washington's newest spy. Champe is unique 
among secret agents. Within twenty-four hours of his arrival, 
he was at the enemy's headquarters glibly lying directly to the 
enemy's commander-in-chief. 

Sir Henry had a great many questions. How far did disaf- 
fection go in the Continental Army? Could it be increased? 
How? Did General Washington suspect any other generals, 
"as concerned in Arnold's conspiracy." (Champe must have 
pricked up his ears at the question. He had come to investigate 
that little matter himself, though he could hardly tell Sir Henry 
so.) What other officers were suspected? 

Champe answered "warily." Some of the questions he found 
"perplexing." But he was always very gloomy as to American 
prospects. He could hardly suggest "proper measures to en- 
courage desertion." But yes, General, it would certainly be 

The Mysterious Adventure of Sergeant Major Champe 313 

possible to increase it. All Sir Henry need do was commence 
"proper measures." These, General, "would certainly bring off 
hundreds of the American soldiers, including some of the best 
troops, horse as well as foot" the same story Champe had told 
the staff interrogator. 

Much gratified, Clinton presented Washington's spy with 
two guineas, an unconscious and very acceptable contribution 
to the limited American secret service funds. A spy who can 
deceive the enemy commander within twenty-four hours is 
good. A spy who can get the enemy commander to pay the bills 
is even better. Sir Henry ordered an aide to write a letter recom- 
mending Champe to the man he had come to kidnap. Sir 
Henry was doing all he could to help General Washington. 

Somebody on the British staff made a careful note of 
Champe's "information." The paper is now in the Clements 
Library: "Jno. Champ Serj. Major in Major Lee's Corps for- 
merly of London [Loudon] County, Virginia, deserted last 
thursday night [Oct. 19, 1780], from Pisaick falls New Jersey- 
Says Major Lee's Corps consists of 90 Horse fit for duty & about 
one hundred infantry that the Marquis La Fayette's Light in- 
fantry were there also that provision was very irregularly given 
out. some days there was nonethat the ration of provision 
consisted of one pd. flour & Do. fresh Beef says that the sol- 
diery in Genl. declare they would much rather join & beat the 
French out of America than fight against British Soldiers." 

Such is Light Horse Harry Lee's account of his sergeant 
major's "desertion," an account which must be accepted as in 
the main correct, since Lee, as Champe's commanding officer, 
had every opportunity to know the facts. It is quite clear, how- 
ever, both from the Clinton papers and from Lee's own corre- 
spondence with Washington at the time, that Champe did not 
reach New York till the latter part of October, 1780, long after 
Andr6 had been hanged. 

Saving Andr was, no doubt, a motive when the Arnold kid- 
naping was first plotted; but Andre himself spoiled everything 
by his hasty and needless confession of the truth, after which 
the Americans had no chance to drag out the trial, thus giving 


Champe time to act. Washington, "deeming it improper to 
interpose any delay," ordered the sentence executed. 

Champe had no difficulty finding Arnold, whom he met by 
chance in a New York street. Since the pretended deserter 
brought Sir Henry Clinton's letter with him, the genuine 
traitor felt no suspicion, but plunged into "numerous in- 
quiries." Champe had to invent some dexterous falsehoods in 
talking with Arnold, who had been a senior officer of the Con- 
tinental Army only a month before and was not easy to deceive. 
Champe, however, handled the turncoat so cleverly that he was 
at once offered his own rank of sergeant major in Arnold's new 
legion. Since it would not do to be too eager, Champe at first 
pretended a "wish to retire from war/' He dared not risk cap- 
ture, he explained. The rebels would certainly hang him. In 
real fact, Champe's main problem was to keep the British from 
detecting and hanging him, while he himself was making suit- 
able preparations to hang the man to whom he was talking. 

"Assuring the general, that should he change his mind, he 
would certainly accept his offer," Champe left Arnold and be- 
gan arrangements to kidnap his new friend. Of the two Ameri- 
can secret agents with whom he was to make contact, one was 
to investigate the supposed treason of a second American gen- 
eral; the other would mobilize enough additional American 
agents (by this time, New York was swarming with them) for 
the kidnaping. 

Champe found "one of the two incogniti," at once the man 
who had sent the information about treason among American 
officers. Told that General Washington wanted immediate 
verification, the spy promised to set to 'work at once. He also 
agreed to forward Champe's first reports to Major Lee. These 
reached the legion's camp through swift and secret channels. 

However, it took Champe five days to find the other "con- 
fidant to whom only the attempts against Arnold was to be 
intrusted." This agent at once promised to secure "a proper 
associate." In the end, Champe had two assistant kidnapers. 

The next step was to get as close to Arnold as possible. The 
prospective kidnaper needed "uninterrupted ingress and egress 
to the house which the general occupied," Champe went back 

The Mysterious Adventure of Sergeant Major Champe 315 

to General Arnold. He had decided to join the legion after all. 

A report from the newly made British sergeant went to Gen- 
eral Washington, through Major Lee. The secret agent whom 
Champe had first interviewed must have had access to the most 
closely guarded intelligence records of the British Army. He 
now reported that the rumor of "additional treason" by another 
major general seemed ' 'groundless/' that the "report took its 
rise in the enemy's camp, and that he hoped soon to clear up 
that matter satisfactorily." A few days later, Charnpe sent docu- 
ments showing the accused general's innocence. Orders went to 
Champe. He would "prosecute with unrelaxed vigor the re- 
maining objects of his instructions." 

Champe continued, in modern criminal parlance, to "case 
the joint." As a member of the "American Legion" (Arnold's 
new troop unit), he now had "every opportunity he could wish, 
to attend to the habits of the general." He noted that his pro- 
spective victim habitually came home about midnight "and 
that previous to going to bed he always visited the garden." 
The motive for the visit though eighteenth-century documents 
do not mention such things was purely physiological. Arnold 
was not communing with his soul in the darkness; nor was he 
searching a guilty conscience. There was no indoor plumbing 
in those days. 

Champe quietly knocked several palings off the fence around 
the garden, enough to let Arnold and his captors through. He 
stuck them back carefully, loose enough to be pulled off with- 
out noise, tight enough not to be noticeable. 

He and the resident secret agent would seize Arnold in the 
dark garden at midnight, gagging him instantly. They would 
then drag him through unlighted streets, with Champe at one 
shoulder, his accomplice at the other, following "most unfre- 
quented alleys and streets." If questioned, they would simply 
explain they had "a drunken soldier, whom they were convey- 
ing to the guardhouse." A second "associate," whom Champe's 
secret service friend had provided, would be waiting "with a 
boat prepared, at one of the wharves on the Hudson River." 
Once in the boat, Arnold could be carried, still gagged and 
bound, across the river, "there being no danger nor obstacle in 


passing to the Jersey shore." The Royal Navy's guard boats 
could be avoided in the darkness. 

When Champe reported his preliminary arrangements, Wash- 
ington approved them at once, again emphasizing that he 
wanted Arnold "brought to me alive." A week or more passed 
before Champe could report all was ready. He would seize the 
traitor on "the third subsequent night," Cavalry were to wait 
at Hoboken, where "he hoped to deliver Arnold." 

The eager Lee himself led the cavalry detachment, "late in 
the evening." With them went three led horses, "one for Ar- 
nold, one for the sergeant, and the third for his associate" who 
is still a man of mystery. Reaching Hoboken about midnight, 
Lee put his party under cover in a neighboring woods, while 
he and three men watched by the river. "Hour after hour 
passed, no boat approached." At dawn, Lee withdrew, "to in- 
form the general of the disappointment, as mortifying as inex- 
plicable." No word came through the secret communication 
line from Champe, indeed no direct messages came from him 
for months. 

Anxiety as to the faithful fellow's personal safety was set at 
rest and the failure explained, when a few days later a message 
arrived carefully unsigned but from a source easily recognized. 
A resident secret agent in New York reported that, on the date 
set for the kidnaping, Arnold had moved to new quarters, to be 
nearer the embarkation point of troops for his Virginia expedi- 
tion. By January 3, 1781, the general received a spy's detailed 
report on the expedition. 

Champe himself, ordered to embark with the rest of the 
American Legion, had spent the night set for his great exploit 
aboard a transport, which he was never able to leave till Arnold 
landed in Virginia. Once he was back in his native Virginia, he 
escaped as soon as he could in a day or two, according to the 
Tory officer who was his company commander in the legion; 
not until Cornwallis reached Petersburg, according to Lee. 

Making his way "high up into Virginia" and through 
"friendly districts" ot North Carolina, he joined General Na- 
thanael Greene's forces in pursuit of Lord Rawdon, on the 
Congaree River. Giving him a horse and money, Greene sent 

The Mysterious Adventure of Sergeant Major Champe 317 

him on to General Washington. There was much surprise in 
the Partisan Legion when the troopers beheld the warm wel- 
come Lee, now a lieutenant colonel, gave his erstwhile deserter. 

Washington, fearing the enemy's vengeance if Champe should 
be captured, discharged him from the service entirely. A spy 
who has returned to his own lines cannot thereafter lawfully be 
executed. But the British had a perfect right to hang him for 
deserting Arnold! 

Having failed to capture Arnold, the Americans tried three 
other kidnapings, all of which failed. Daring raiders under 
Washington's aide, Colonel David Humphreys, landed on Man- 
hattan after dark on Christmas Day, 1780, hoping to kidnap 
both Sir Henry Clinton and General von Knyphausen, but the 
attempt could be carried no further. British secret agents, 
scandalized at the mere thought of such a thing, found out 
about it a month later. 

In March, 1781, Major Allan McLane also attempted to kid- 
nap Arnold being especially eager to succeed where Lee, whom 
he hated, had failed. From an advanced American signal station 
on the James River, McLane had noticed that Arnold rode out 
to the shore of Chesapeake Bay every morning. He laid a plot 
to intercept him; but the untimely arrival of British warships, 
which anchored in the wrong place, saved Arnold, for the sec- 
ond time. 



THE ENEMY'S last opportunity to stir up treason in the Ameri- 
can forces was the mutiny of the Pennsylvania line, on New 
Year's Day, 1781, and o the New Jersey line, three weeks later. 
After watching for signs of incipient mutiny for a long time, 
the British had been encouraged when a revolt in General 
Jedediah Huntington's Brigade, in Danbury, had appeared im- 
minent, two years earlier. Their intelligence system was quick 
to note the first indications. The spy, Elihu Hall, who had left 
New London, January 5, 1779, had evidently paused in Dan- 
bury long enough to investigate discontent among the troops. 
Though the difficulties of secret travel in wartime had forced 
him to take a very roundabout route, he was able to give Clin- 
ton's staff full information o the approaching mutiny on Jan- 
uary 13, together with data on American strength, troop 
dispositions and supply shortages. The mutiny broke out, 
just as the spy had predicted, a few days later; but General Put- 
nam quelled it before the enemy could take any advantage of it. 
The mutiny of the Pennsylvania line, almost exactly two 
years after this, was far more serious, for the men were both 
resolute and embittered. While there is no possible defense for 
mutiny, these troops, after long and loyal service, had good 

Mutiny 319 

reason for discontent. First, they had been paid in worthless 
money. After that, for months, they had not been paid at ail. 
Besides this, they were badly clothed and equipped; bedding 
was in such short supply that, in the bitterest winter weather, 
several men at once had to shiver under a single blanket. 
Finally, though the soldiers believed their enlistments for 
three years or the duration had expired, they were not al- 
lowed to go home. They knew they had served three years; 
they refused to believe that they were, nevertheless, bound to 
serve till peace was made. They were infuriated by seeing 
short-service men re-enlisting every few months and drawing a 
generous bounty each time they did so, while the three-year 
men went on serving without bounty, pay or hope of discharge. 

In the end, the irate Pennsylvanians took matters into their 
own hands. At eleven o'clock on the night of January i, 1781, 
they started from their camp at Morristown, for Philadelphia, 
determined to appeal to the Continental Congress and the 
Pennsylvania Council, first "scouring" the parade ground with 
a blast of round shot and grape shot, then advancing with fixed 
bayonets, firing as they went. Their commander, Wayne, and 
his officers tried to stop them with swords and espontoons, kill- 
ing one man and wounding others; but the column, com- 
manded by sergeants only, moved sullenly ahead, leaving a 
dangerous gap in the American defenses, which might widen if 
other troops joined the mutiny. 

So efficient was British espionage in New Jersey that Clinton 
received the news at the same moment as Washington himself 
at noon, January 3, 1781, thirty-six hours after the mutiny 
began. One question was uppermost in each general's mind: 
Would the mutineers join the British? Neither commander 
realized that the men had no thought of disloyalty. All they 
wanted was to get their pay and go home. 

The first British spy to bring the news to Clinton was Joseph 
Gould, a Jerseyman who happened to be traveling to New York 
on one of his regular secret journeys, when he saw the smoke of 
beacons rising and heard artillery firing. Though wondering 
what it meant, he nevertheless went on, since he had an intelli- 
gence report to deliver. On his way, he met a man apparently 


not an agent, possibly an American deserter who gave him the 
first news of a mutiny or "drunken frolic" in Wayne's camp; but 
he was delayed on Staten Island and could not reach Manhattan 
till next morning. Otherwise, Clinton would have had the 
news before Washington. 

Clinton sent Gould straight back to New Jersey, to consult 
a resident secret agent, Andrew Gaultier, at Paulus Hook. Next 
day Gaultier supplied enough news to encourage Clinton, who 
at once prepared a force sufficient to protect the mutineers if, 
as he hoped, they meant to desert to the British en masse. Six 
British regiments were given warning orders, and boats were 
made ready to move them. More news came pouring into New 
York from casual travelers through New Jersey, as well as from 
spies. British reports throughout January, 1781, are filled with 
the details. 

Meantime, however, all that Clinton and his staff were doing 
was being closely observed by the jaundiced eye of an American 
secret agent, still unidentified, who just happened to be in New 
York City at the right moment. As soon as he had had time to 
see everything, this spy went back across the Hudson to report. 
Long before dawn, he was at Elizabeth, New Jersey, telling 
Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Crane all about British action on 
receiving the news: "Nothing could possibly have given them 
so much pleasure. Every preparation is making among them 
to come out and make a descent on New Jersey. I think South 
Amboy is their object. They expect those in mutiny will im- 
mediately join them. ... If they come out it will be with con- 
siderable force, and may be expected within twenty-four hours 
from this time." Whoever this man was, he was a quick-think- 
ing and intrepid agent and an accurate reporter, who was 
wrong only in his twenty-four-hour time limit and he qualified 
that with an "if." 

By five o'clock Lieutenant Colonel Crane was relaying the 
information, with admirable promptness and with an evalua- 
tion: "I have had the above person present and examined him." 
Lieutenant Colonel Crane knew the value of personal interro- 
gation: "Therefore you may rely on the above intelligence." As 
confirmation, he added that it looked as if small British naval 

Mutiny 321 

vessels were getting into position to "cover the embarkation of 
the rioters in case they should take a turn towards the [British] 

By six o'clock in the evening of January 5, another officer, 
Colonel Moses Jacques, was reporting, also from Elizabeth, that 
the British troops had orders for Staten Island, a jump-off line 
for New Jersey. Colonel Jacques even had details. Each man 
was "to have 2 pairs of stockings, 2 shirts and blanket, with 
three days provisions." That meant Clinton was ready for a 
prolonged advance. 

An American spy in close touch with the enemy's headquar- 
ters now reported that Clinton had secured more information 
from "a man who went over from Woodbridge." This second 
British agent had reported "that the new commandant of the 
Pennsylvania Line" (this meant the sergeant heading the mu- 
tinous troops) was willing to join the British a completely 
erroneous piece of information. 

All this early intelligence of British preparations was soon 
supplemented by the report of another American secret agent, 
who left Elizabeth for New York about eleven o'clock on the 
morning of January 5, and had no difficulty in entering the city 
about five o'clock that afternoon. This man was able to observe 
British troop movements in Manhattan personally. 

"I never saw the British exert themselves so much in my life," 
he reported. Through torrents of rain, four or five thousand 
troops were embarking for Amboy. "I think they will be there 
tonight," said this secret observer, "with 20 field guns, 18 of the 
heavy and 54 engineers." Wearily the faithful fellow ended his 
report: "I am almost tired to death, or I would set out again 
immediately been two nights without sleep, and last night so 
wet that I had not a dry thread on me." 

While the spies of both sides buzzed about, Sir Henry slowly 
awoke to the disconcerting fact that the mutinous Pennsyl- 
vanians were not making the overtures to treason he had ex- 
pected. A traitor in the American camp, spying for the British, 
known only as "Captain G," reported the mutiny, but he could 
find no signs at all that the mutineers meant to join the red- 


Since the Pennsylvanians had not approached the enemy, it 
was high time for the enemy to approach them. On January 4, 
Sir Henry prepared his offer. He would pardon the Pennsyl- 
vanians' rebellious offenses and himself provide the back pay 
due from Congress, in hard British gold, not paper all this 
without "expectation of military service/' Any mutineers who 
then wished to put on the king's red coat might do so. The 
others might do what all soldiers want to do go home, with 
money in their pockets. 

By evening, copies of the proclamation were rolled up in the 
thin lead sheets then used for packing tea. If the British emis- 
saries were captured and searched, apparently harmless pack- 
ages of this kind might be ignoredor so British intelligence 

Six or seven agents were sent out with these papers. Two 
copies were given Gould to pass to Andrew Gaultier, who 
would send on from Paulus Hook a still-unknown secret courier 
of his own. A third copy was given to John Mason, Tory spy 
and guerrilla, whose raids had begun to approach plain robbery 
so closely that he had gone to jail in consequence. To get out, 
he volunteered "to serve his Excellency in the character of a 
spy." Just the man! If caught and hanged, he would be no 
great loss. Robert Macfarlan, perhaps an American double 
agent; Caleb Bruen, certainly an American double agent, 
though the enemy as yet had no suspicion of him; and probably 
one other, unnamed agent, went out independently. 

Gould and Mason were put separately aboard H.M.S. Nep- 
tune, in Raritan Bay. Gould landed at Elizabeth Point next 
day, covered the short distance to Gaultier's rendezvous, and got 
rid of his dangerous papers at once. Mason's task was not so easy. 
He would have at least a two-day ride to Princeton, through 
country that he did not know at all well; and, since there would 
be American guards or patrols on all main roads, he would 
need guides who knew back roads and paths. 

He did not reach Neptune till eight in the morning of Janu- 
ary 5, and then waited aboardship, because it was unwise to go 
ashore till dusk was approaching, It was the kind of long, in- 

Mutiny 323 

active wait in safety, just before the plunge into danger, that 
saps a secret agent's courage. 

Unwilling to lose time, the captain of Neptune found two 
horses somewhere and had Mason and the nags put aboard 
the armed galley, Philadelphia, which rowed up the Raritan 
River in broad daylight. Its commander was to put the agent 
ashore, wherever he wished, that afternoon. The January dusk 
would be falling by the time he reached the American forces. 
John Rattoon, British resident at South Amboy, who had car- 
ried messages for Arnold, took him as far as the Delaware, 
where he handed him over to James Ogden of South River 
(Willettstown). Little is known of Ogden, save that he had 
just been married to a bride who was going to be a widow 
in a few days more, and that he was part of the group of agents 
organized by Rattoon. 

The pair had an easy journey, reaching Princeton late Sat- 
urday night (January 6, 1781) or early Sunday morning (Jan- 
uary 7). With no idea that the mutinous Pennsylvania line 
were still entirely loyal to the American cause, Mason walked 
boldly up to the first sentry he saw, asked for the commanding 
officer, and was sent to Nassau Hall where the "President of 
the Board of Sergeants" had set up his command post. 

The colloquy between the mutineer and the spy was brief. 
What did the visitor want? He was an "express." Express 
from where? Elizabethtown. Were the British coming? No. 
The sergeant then asked again, "Where do you come from?" 
Boldly naming Sir Henry Clinton, the spy produced his message 
in its lead wrapping. The sergeant read it; instantly arrested 
Mason; found Ogden; arrested him, too; took them both be- 
fore the board of Sergeants; then at four o'clock in the morn- 
ingsent them to Wayne, as prisoners. Mason must be the 
only secret agent in all the sordid history of his trade, who 
ever marched into the enemy's headquarters and announced 
his errand. 

Wayne returned the painfully astonished spies to the mu- 
tineers, urging the rebellious sergeants to send them to Joseph 
Reed, president of Pennsylvania. 

Two more of Clinton's other emissaries reached Princeton 


undetected, but warned by the arrest of the first pair were 
cautious. On Sunday night, January 7, a copy of Clinton's 
offer was found "among the sergeant's" (Wayne's version), or 
"before the door where the sergeants met" (Reed's version). 

The men who dropped these papers were probably Robert 
Macfarlan and Caleb Bruen, who had met at Princeton, dis- 
covered they were on the same errand, and pushed on to 
Trenton together. Learning that Mason and Ogden had been 
captured, they hastily rid themselves of their messages, which 
Bruen, as an American spy in British service, wanted the 
Americans to find. In some way, he got secretly in touch with 
them, probably through Colonel Elias Dayton, who later in- 
formed Washington that Bruen ''first gave notice of Sir Harry's 
correspondence with the Pennsylvania revolters." 

Next day, Bruen had the misfortune to encounter an Amer- 
ican officer who knew that the Newark spy lived near the British 
lines and was suspicious at finding him so near the mutinous 
Pennsylvanians. Nevertheless, though interrogated, he was able 
to escape across the Delaware, into Pennsylvania, knowing that 
Colonel Dayton could protect him so long as he was near the 
Americans. Bruen may have been the agent who simply went 
to Morristown and handed over Clinton's proposals to Major 
General Arthur St. Glair. 

Meantime, British spies were scrambling out of New York 
in all directions, to see whether the mutiny was spreading and 
what the rest of the Continental Army was doing. Joseph Clark 
set out for Morristown, to ascertain what troop movements the 
American command was ordering. Lieutenant Thomas Okerson 
went within four miles of Trenton and brought back a full 
report of the mutiny. Isaac Siscoe and Ezekiel Yeomans went 
though probably not together to West Point. Yeomans re- 
turned with a harrowing tale of a barely suppressed mutiny 
there; of troops at Pompton, New Jersey, huzzahing for the 
mutineers; of "Washington much cast down" and afraid to 
move his troops lest there be more mutiny. On January 15, 
he was off again. 

In early January, Uzal Woodruff went up the Hudson as far 
as Kingston. Listening while Colonel Elias Dayton read orders 

Mutiny 325 

to the New Jersey Brigade, he noted their sullen mood which 
soon led to a second mutiny chatted with some Pennsylvania 
troops, and returned safely by a back road through Chatham 
the only route the Americans had not yet blocked. Woodruff, 
too, was probably a double agent. 

Without waiting to hear from all these spies, Sir Henry 
Clinton himself crossed to Staten Island about noon on Friday, 
January 5, to be with the troops detailed there. Major Oliver 
De Lancey, now adjutant general (and therefore chief intelli- 
gence officer), went with his commander, leaving two assistant 
intelligence officers, Major Frederick Mackenzie and Captain 
John Stapleton, to deal with the spies' reports, as they began to 
come in. 

On the American side, Joseph Reed rode into New Jersey 
to deal with the Pennsylvania mutineers and met the captured 
spies, Mason and Ogden, under guard, on the road between 
Trenton and Maidenhead (Lawrenceville). Reed went with the 
prisoners to Lawrenceville, where he delivered them to guards 
from the Philadelphia Light Horse (the famous City Troop). 
After a mild dispute with the sergeants as to whose prisoners 
the spies really were, he was allowed to turn them over to a 
committee of Congress, on the Pennsylvania side of the Dela- 

As soon as the mutinous troops handed Mason and Ogden 
over for trial, a court-martial met at Summer Seat, the home 
of Thomas Barclay, at Morrisville, Pennsylvania, just opposite 
Trenton. The trial was brief, since Mason had foolishly ad- 
mitted to Sergeant Williams that he was a British agent; and 
Ogden had been caught with him. Mason tried to save him- 
self by "revealing" yet another plot to kidnap General Wash- 
ington. The British spy, Thomas Ward, with "thirty more 
desperadoes/' he said, meant to waylay the Continental com- 
mander, while riding with his usual small escort. The court, 
unimpressed, sentenced both defendants to hang next morning, 
January 10, 1781. 

David H. Conyngham, of the Philadelphia Light Horse, had 
the unpleasant duty of sitting up all night with the condemned 
men, who begged for some ray of hope. Conyngham went to 


Wayne, who replied that "nothing could save them/' Since 
it was the only thing he could do, Conyngham borrowed a 
Bible and spent the night reading it to the prisoners Mason 
devout, Ogden in paroxysms of terror. Toward morning, Mason 
got a little sleep. 

When the hour came, the two were taken to Patrick Colvin's 
ferry house, on the Pennsylvania side of the Trenton Ferry, 
where stood a handy tree. Colvin lent a wagon and a Negro 
slave as executioner. When, at the last moment, it was discov- 
ered there was no rope, Lieutenant James Budden, of the Light 
Horse, saw a "rope collar" on a horse Conyngham's servant 
had just ridden out from Philadelphia. Someone unwound the 
rope, while the spies watched. Mason died with a warning to 
Washington: "The intelligence he mentioned the previous 
evening was literally true" but Ward never kidnaped General 

Unknown to the spectatorsand, apparently, to the victims 
two other spies, Macfarlan and Bruen, stood in the group 
that watched the hanging. When they passed the gallows again, 
a day later, the bodies still swung on their ropes, where they 
were left dangling for several days more, as object lessons to 
any other British agents who might be lingering about. 

This espionage during the American mutinies was the end 
of Caleb Bruen's career as a double spy and very nearly the 
end of Caleb Bruen. After the Pennsylvania mutiny had col- 
lapsed, another broke out among New Jersey troops, and a 
new mutiny among the Pennsylvanians at York, Pennsylvania; 
but these were quickly crushed. Clinton, still unsuspicious, 
sent Bruen out once more, to see what the New Jersey mu- 
tineers were doing, on February 8, 1781, and on the tenth the 
spy was back in New York, reporting that the mutiny was 
over. On one or both of his missions, Bruen had been given 
papers for delivery to the mutinous troops. What he really did 
with them is not hard to guess; and headquarters in New York 
was worried. British intelligence officers had some questions 
to ask. All dealings with the mutinous troops had gone awry. 
Where were the messages that had been given Bruen? He had 
not delivered them to the mutineers. 


Unmasked at last,, the American officer tried to persuade 
the enemy's interrogators that he had been forced to destroy the 
papers to keep the Americans from arresting him; but the 
suspicious Britons sent him to the "Sugar House" prison in 
New York. They might have hanged him; but Sir Henry 
Clinton was a humane man who did not like to hang anybody, 
even spies; and Colonel Elias Dayton managed to get the secret 
agent back to Newark as an exchanged prisoner the following 
year very much the worse for wear, but, anyhow, still alive. 

The enemy had every right to be indignant, for the loyalty 
of the mutineers plus whatever it was that Captain Caleb 
Bruen really did with those papers! had ended their last chance 
of promoting successful treason. Terror reigned among Clin- 
ton's agents, some of whom almost fled from their posts. 

Spies Before Yorktown 

As THE SPRING of 1781 wore on into summer, a desperate battle 
of wits between British and American intelligence services be- 
gan. The first half of the struggle was a distinct success for 
the British. Sir Henry Clinton's spies supplied a steady flow 
of intelligence that enabled his staff officers to analyze General 
Washington's intentions nearly as well as if they had them- 
selves been in American headquarters. They knew, far in ad- 
vance, that he meant to unite the French and American armies 
and attack New York. But, forgetting that a general may change 
his intentions, they overlooked entirely a second American 
capability: General Washington might also attack Cornwallis, 
in Virginia. 

When Sir Henry Clinton had divided his army to keep forces 
both in New York City and in the southern states the year 
before (1780), he had hoped for early victories there. After 
the South had been won, he meant to close in on the Middle 
Atlantic states, aided by six thousand Tories, secretly armed 
and ready to rise, in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. 
After these victories, the stubbornly rebellious New Englanders 
could be isolated and easily crushed, especially if Arnold's be- 

Spies Before Yorktown 329 

trayal of West Point gave the British control of the Hudson 
River line as it very nearly did. 

Throughout the spring and early summer of 1781, Wash- 
ington's war plan was exactly what the British thought it was. 
He proposed to bring the French Army from Rhode Island to 
the Hudson, unite it with his own, call out militia reinforce- 
ments, collect boats, and assault Manhattan and Long Island, 
while a large part of the British forces were far away in the 
South. In June, 1781, instructions went out to American secret 
agents in New York to "inquire minutely" into British strength 
in New York, reinforcements, troop dispositions in case of 
alarm, artillery, fortifications and shipping. 

Then, suddenly, in mid-August, the whole American war 
plan changed. Washington and Rochambeau agreed to leave 
enough troops to pen Clinton on his islands, while they them- 
selves swept south; concentrated the American northern and 
southern armies, together with the French, against Cornwallis; 
and won the war. 

It is fascinating to follow the spies reports that poured into 
British headquarters, up to the time when Washington changed 
his plan. This earlier intelligence was complete and correct, 
reporting every Franco-American move as soon as it was made 
and occasionally before it was made. The French move from 
Rhode Island to the Hudson was predicted accurately, far 
in advance. When the actual march began, British spies sup- 
plied Clinton with full details routes, location of divisions, 
halting places, supplies, order of battle, and the daring move- 
ment of French artillery and stores along Connecticut coastal 
roads though the British Navy failed to land marines and 
seize them. The mobilization and marches of American militia 
in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut were swiftly and 
exactly noted, sometimes by agents moving with the American 
troops, sometimes by agents ensconced in fields and woods along 
the route or by agents moving in disguise, past the American 
columns. Comparison proved to the British staff the accuracy 
of these reports, which confirmed one another. 

The trouble was that, for two or three weeks after the French 
and Americans had decided to attack Cornwallis, most British 


spies' reports continued to indicate they would attack New 
York; for General Washington, up to the very last minute, had 
been careful to move his troops in such a way as to make the 
idea seem plausible. Besides, he himself certainly once or 
twice, probably three times, perhaps oftener had supplied, 
the enemy with exactly the information he wanted them to 
have about his now-abandoned plan. 

More than a year before the march to Yorktown, on July 7, 

1780, a British spy in Connecticut had sent word: "The General 
Report is, that an attack upon New York & Long Island is 
designed as soon as the French Troops arrive, in conjunction 
with the Continental Troops Mr. Washington is to have the 
Chief Command over the whole." 

Early in 1781, faithful British spies (and one who was not 
in the least faithful) began to report the probability of a French 
move to join Washington, against New York. On February 10, 

1781, Caleb Bruen came into New York having apparently 
made a roundabout trip through New Jersey with a message 
from Dr. John Haliburton, British agent in Newport, Rhode 
Island. Three French brigades were going aboard transports; 
Washington and Rochambeau would soon hold a conference at 

In fact, the French troops were moving against Arnold in 
Virginia. There would be no conference at Newport, indeed 
no conference at all for some time. In other words, the intelli- 
gence was just true enough to seem plausible, yet completely 
misleading and no wonder! For, no matter what message Hali- 
burton may originally have sent, Bruen, as a double agent work- 
ing for the Americans, had had every opportunity to tamper 
with it; and although this cannot quite be proved it is plain 
enough that he made his long detour through New York and 
New Jersey to see just what General Washington (then at 
New Windsor) wanted the enemy to believe. 

The first indication that the French would move by land 
to join Washington reached Clinton on February 16, 1781, 
through a man named Robinson, living in New London, prob- 
ably a Tory acting as a volunteer spy. On February 28, 
the supposed double agent, Macfarlan, had a chat with Colonel 

Spies Before Yorktown 331 

Elias Dayton, in charge of American intelligence in New Jersey. 
Dayton offered Macfarlan three hundred acres of land and two 
hundred guineas if he would send a supposed Tory into New 
York to get information on troops and shipping there. He also 
wanted Macfarlan to arrange a courier service for American 
spies on Manhattan, shortening the long route through Con- 
necticut, with which General Washington had always been 
dissatisfied. If Macfarlan 's wits had been a little quicker, he 
might, by agreeing to the new courier scheme, have exposed 
the Culper group at last. Instead, he simply reported the whole 
conversation to the British. Dayton had, however, let slip one 
bit of nearly correct information, for Macfarlan reported: "The 
French are said to be moving." They were not, as a matter of 
fact, moving yet; but preparations were far enough advanced 
to make it appear so. 

On March 8, 1781, a British spy named Joseph Clarke re- 
turned to New York from "the Country." He had penetrated 
as far as Warwick, Rhode Island, south of Providence, bringing 
back word that the French planned to move to the Hudson and 
that certain state militia units were on eight days' warning. 

On April 24, Colonel Beverly Robinson, who had been ac- 
tive in the Arnold-Andr affair, started to Rhode Island to in- 
vestigate in person. He saw no signs of an overland march, 
but did report that French troops were going aboard trans- 
ports. At about the same time, another agent reported that the 
French fleet was taking on water, artillery and ammunition, 
while transports were standing ready. These were the ships 
which later carried troops from Baltimore and Annapolis into 
Virginia. Still another British agent reported, toward the end 
of April, probably about the twenty-eighth, that the French 
were actually "on their march for the North, i.e. Hudson, River, 
and it is said were to take part with some Continental troops 
at White Plains." 

On April 30, the news was definite: "the French troops had 
marched to Providence, in order to join Gen 1 Washington's 
army." Six days later, Captain Marquard, of the British staff, 
reported hostile troops, not otherwise identified, marching 
from Providence for the Highlands of the Hudson, above Peek- 


skill, where ground had been marked out for their camp. On 
May 31, "our friend in Rhode Island" reported to the British 
command that he was sure the French meant to leave their 
base there, though he could set no date. 

To verify all this, a spy from New York, Wynot Williamson, 
made two trips up the Hudson during May. He reported 
General Washington's return (May 25, 1781) from his confer- 
ence with Rochambeau at Wethersfield, Connecticut; the ex- 
pected movement of the French 2nd Division; and collection 
of wagons for the French Army's baggage. Joseph Clarke again 
visited Warwick in the latter part of May, returning June i 
and then at once going into the field again. He returned June 
5 with word that General Washington had brought his own 
troops across the Hudson and had laid out a camp for five 
thousand French troops at Crompond. Between June 14 and 
June 29, five other intelligence sources confirmed the report 
of the proposed French march. Presently spies observed French 
officers preparing a campsite. 

William Heron, of Redding, Connecticut, sent word June 17 
that he had already reported "the intended route of the French 
troops." He had learned the French plan from General Samuel 
H. Parsons, who had foolishly gossiped about it, after talking 
with French officers sent ahead of Rochambeau's column, to 
lay out the camp. Heron also reported General Washington's 
conference with the French at Wethersfield, though this was 
no news to Clinton, since the spy, James Moody, had captured 
Washington's dispatches of May 27-29, reporting the plans 
agreed on. These stated definitely that there would be a joint 
French and American operation against New York, with "a 
tolerable prospect of expelling the enemy or obliging them to 
withdraw part of their force from the southward/' Though 
the dispatches were genuine, Sir Henry Clinton had been fooled 
so often by Washington's plants of false information that he 
at first thought these papers, too, had been deliberately sent 
out to be captured. Eventually, as he himself admitted, the 
captured document convinced him that New York City was 
the sole Franco-American objective. 

Heron also reported that the American commander-in-chief 

Spies Before Yorktown 333 

had officially notified the Connecticut legislature of the French 
march and had asked to have shelter provided for them en route. 
He expected the French to arrive at Crompond, about June 27, 

An independent report from Doctor Haliburton, at Newport, 
confirmed intelligence of French movements, on June 19. Hali- 
burton boasted he had had the news two hours after the French 
council of war broke up. A day later, Captain Marquard saw 
three thousand French troops between Danbury and Peekskill, 
together with American cavalry (Moylan's and Sheldon's dra- 

On June 28, David Gray reported three hundred French at 
East Hartford and warned that General Washington meant to 
attack New York. As Gray was really an American secret agent, 
who had tricked the British into using him as their own secret 
courier, he was probably trying to give Clinton intelligence 
that would tell him nothing he did not already know, but 
would prove accurate, if tested. Since his most recent mission 
as a courier for British intelligence had taken Gray across the 
French line of march, he had to report something or he would 
have been suspected. General Washington could have had no 
hesitation in letting the British have Gray's information, since 
his own spies in New York had reported on May 8 that the 
enemy knew of the proposed French march. 

While he was fooling Clinton, Gray went a little further and 
fooled Clinton's spy and courier, Nehemiah Marks. A little 
later (July 19), Marks was innocently sending information given 
him ''By M r Gray a person how [who] I Can Rely on." This 
report shows that Gray had visited Washington's camp before 
going on to the British though the British had no idea why. 
Marks says that "a few days a Gow he whos [was] through the 
french & Washingtons in Campment & by the Best accompts 
that hee Can learn their is abought 6000 french troops and 
equal Number of Rebels and that thae expsected an Reinforce- 
ment of Boston Militia & then thae ment to force Newyork." 

It looks as if Gray, after receiving General Washington's in- 
structions what to tell the enemy, was "stuffing" Marks to the 
best of his ability. 


About this time, the German General Baron von Riedesel 
sent two secret agents across Long Island Sound to make in- 
quiries among Connecticut Tories. They, too, brought back 
details of the French march. The French ist Division had 
reached Danbury on June 29; the 2nd and sjrd had reached 
Hartford on the twenty-eighth; the 4th was on its way "but 
its particular route or progress is not known." 

On July i, another report from Marks came in, dated June 29, 
at Lloyd's Neck, Long Island. A flag of truce had returned from 
Stamford. The British officer who had carried it reported 
"that their are four thousand French troops on their march 
from Rhode Island & that the first division has arrived at Dan- 

Confirmatory news continued to arrive throughout July. A 
certain Colonel Hunt, "as he lay concealed on the ground," 
had seen four hundred cavalry pass toward Williamsbridge. 
Remaining in observation, "about a q? of an hour after sun- 
rise he saw some French troops, about five hundred, marching 
the same road; a few Rebel troops were with them. He knew 
them to be French by their white Clothes, and language." 

Though the British intelligence digest after July 19, 1781, 
is lost, many of the original reports on which it was based sur- 
vive in the Clinton papers. They show that Sir Henry continued 
to be fully informed of all American plans and movements 
throughout August. 

There were not, at first, many strictly American troop move- 
ments for the British spies to report. They did, however, note 
that the Americans were again collecting boats, which sug- 
gested they would attack Manhattan. Wynot Williamson who 
had gone again into Dutchess County, New York, came back 
March 19, 1781, with a report on American troop locations, 
alerting of militia, Washington's personal movements, ordnance 
and quartermaster supplies, and the number of boats available. 
He made another trip in April, spending a whole day with 
Colonel Beverly Robinson's "particular friend who lives very 
near West Point" a man alarmingly well-informed about every- 
thing the Americans were doing. 

Williamson learned all about American security measures, 

Spies Before Yorktown 335 

troop dispositions, stores and artillery. He also learned exactly 
where General Washington was living "at Elises House, New 
Windsor." Thereafter, for some time, British spies continued 
to note day by day, the houses in which the commander of 
the Continental Army had his headquarters, perhaps because 
they still dreamed of kidnaping him, perhaps because the loca- 
tion of the general showed where the main American forces 
were. On June 27, 1781, General Washington was reported 
moving to Peekskill. On July 6, he was at the house of Joseph 
Appleby, on Sawmill River (near the modern parkway). On 
July 8, the British spies reported he had moved to the house 
of Thomas Tompkins, "2 1/2 miles this side of Young's house, 
on the direct road/' It was useless to attempt kidnaping at the 
moment, for the report also said: "Sheldon's Dragoons are with 
Washington/' On July 13, British intelligence was able to 
report Washington's headquarters before the general himself 
reached them: The next day, said an advance report, he would 
be "at Edward Brown's, two miles above Phillips's, on the 
North River road." General Rochambeau's headquarters were 
located with the same meticulous precision, though not so 
frequently. By July 8, Captain Marquard was sending Clinton 
a complete and essentially accurate order of battle of both the 
French and the American armies, broken down by regiments, 
with full details on artillery. 

In addition to his services as courier, Nehemiah Marks 
brought in news of the French, gained through various in- 
formants of his own some unnamed Tories in Stamford, a 
"Mr. Lewis" in Newfield (either in Stamford or Stratford), and 
"a Capt of a Rebel whale Bote how [whom] J have hold a 
Correspondence with." This American traitor was bold enough 
to cross with his crew to Lloyd's Neck, Long Island, probably 
in April, 1781, to give information to the enemy in person: 
a large French fleet had sailed from Rhode Island; a quantity 
of entrenching tools had been sent to Middletown, Connecticut, 
in carts; two companies of artillery had been told to hold 
themselves "in Rediness att a moments whorning." Meantime, 
two of Marks's assistants, after a ten-day cruise, brought word 
that other American militiamen had been ordered to hold 


themselves in readiness with seven days' rations. Some militia 
were being drafted for nine months' duty. Taken together, 
all these facts confirmed the intelligence Clinton was getting 
from other sources. 

There was further confirmation late in July, when Thomas 
Ward, head of a British spy ring operating in New Jersey, sent 
two agents from Bergen toward King's Ferry, to watch for any 
signs that more French or American troops were crossing the 
Hudson. Before the men could return, Ward himself had 
learned that "Report strongly prevails in the Country of Raising 
Militia and laying Seige to New York." On July 24, 1781, 
an unknown British spy, signing only as "F," reported: "If 
there is any Atemp* Made you may depend on it will be made 
on the Island that will be first place of the Atackt." Many 
similar reports came in from American deserters and escaping 
British prisoners. Boats were repeatedly mentioned. 

All this information was correct and the British believed it, 
since still more confirmation kept coming in. Colonel Elias 
Dayton perhaps not unintentionally let slip, where a British 
spy could pick up the information, plans to have a brigade 
of Continentals, reinforced by militia, 'lay at" Fort Lee, on 
the Hudson above New York. British agents reported that 
General Washington had reconnoitered this very ground in 
disguise. American artillery was moving south from West 
Point. At four o'clock the same day (July 31, 1781), the active 
British reconnoissance officer, Captain Marquard, also reported 
on American artillery. One of his agents had reached Wash- 
ington's headquarters and observed the artillery parked near 
it. On August 2, Thomas Ward reported five hundred French 
and American troops, after crossing the Hudson, had reached 
Tappan, while New York militia were mobilizing. 

British intelligence continued to keep a close eye on French 
and American movements. On August 10, a secret agent rode 
boldly through the Franco-American forces, meeting their first 
guard somewhere near White Plains or Kingsbridge, and going 
on through French cavalry and infantry to French headquarters, 
then on to General Washington's headquarters about two miles 
west, then past a force of about five brigades. Everything looked 

Spies Before Yorktown 337 

as if an attack on New York was still contemplated. It was. 
The Franco-American plan would not change till four or five 
days later. 

With all this intelligence indicating an attack against New 
York, the British staff could not go wrong or so they thought. 
But, after a preliminary letter on August 5, 1781, Rochambeau, 
on August 14, received a letter from Admiral de Grasse, an- 
nouncing he would leave the West Indies for Chesapeake Bay 
with twenty-nine ships and three new French regiments. The 
moment General Washington had this news, he decided to 
attack Yorktown. On the seventeenth, a French general officer 
personally carried a letter to Admiral de Grasse, saying that 
the combined French and American armies would meet his 
fleet on Chesapeake Bay. On the nineteenth, General William 
Heath was told he would be left behind with a skeleton force 
to keep Clinton's army in New York. Meantime, on August 15, 
orders went off to Lafayette to keep Cornwallis, now at York- 
town, from getting away, an effort in which one courageous spy 
greatly assisted. 

American espionage had been active in Cornwallis's force, 
even before he was shut up in Yorktown. While he was at 
Williamsburg, on his way into the trap of Yorktown, Colonel 
James Innis, a Virginian familiar with the local people, had 
established a "line of Intelligence" north and south of the 
York River, buying provisions for his spies, so that they could 
approach the enemy as illicit tradesmen. Lafayette was offering 
ten guineas to any agent who could prove he had been in a 
British camp more to anyone who brought "material Informa- 
tion." Colonel Innis says that "very material service" was 
rendered by his agents on the north (Gloster) bank of York 
River; but that is all he says; and no other record of these 
spies remains. 

There is record enough, however, of Private Charles Morgan, 
the boldest and most sensationally successful of Lafayette's 
spies. It was by this time essential to plant false information 
that would keep Cornwallis from trying to escape northward, 
across the James. To hold him where he was till the French 
and Continental armies could arrive, the British general had 


to be tricked into believing that Lafayette had boats enough 
to cross any river and follow instantly, no matter where his 
opponent went. 

The marquis asked Colonel Francis Barber, commanding 
a New Jersey battalion of light infantry, to suggest a man who 
could do it. Barber suggested Morgan, one of his own men. 
Like Sergeant Major Champe, Morgan demurred not at the 
risk he would have to run, but at the disgrace of desertion. 
Only when Lafayette promised to clear Morgan's good name, 
by publishing the facts in New Jersey, if his spy was hanged, 
did the "deserter" consent. 

Besides being one of the most successful missions any spy 
ever carried out, this turned out to be one of the easiest. With 
special instructions to exaggerate the number of boats the 
Americans possessed, Lafayette's agent was soon in the British 
camp, chatting with Cornwallis himself, while Banastr Tarl- 
eton, the guerrilla leader, stood listening. Exactly as Lafayette 
had hoped, the question came. Had Lafayette boats enough 
for his entire force? Oh, yes, said Morgan, well rehearsed. 
Cornwallis turned to Tarleton. 

"There!" he said, "I told you this would not do." 

A few days later, Lafayette, returning from reconnoissance, 
was startled to find six British soldiers and a Hessian awaiting 
him. Private Morgan, still in the enemy's scarlet, stepped forth 
to report. 

"Well, Morgan, whom have you here?" asked Lafayette. 

Not content with deceiving Cornwallis, the American spy 
had persuaded five British soldiers to desert with him. On their 
way through the outposts, they had encountered a Hessian and, 
since the man might give an alarm, had brought him along as 
a prisoner. 

Delighted, Lafayete offered Morgan a sergeant's warrant, but 
Morgan declined. He had tried to be a good private; he wasn't 
sure he would be a good sergeant. Well, what did he want? 
Private Morgan wanted his own musket, which had been given 
to another soldier. The cherished weapon was restored, and 
that is the only reward he ever did receive. 

While Lafayette decoyed Cornwallis, Sir Henry Clinton, in 

Spies Before Yorktown 339 

New York, was given no chance to observe troop movements 
closely enough to guess where Washington and Rochambeau 
were really going. When, on August 21, 1781, the French and 
American armies started southward, Heath sent covering forces 
to conceal their march by keeping the enemy away from King's 
Ferry, while the troops crossed the Hudson. The march through 
New Jersey was far enough west to escape observation by hostile 
patrols. One column moved through Paramus New Brunswick 
Princeton. The other took the route Suffern Pompton Mor- 
ristown Chatham Middlebrook Princeton. 

So large a troop movement could not wholly escape British 
espionage; but, for a long time, it could be made to look like 
an attack on New York, by way of Staten Island. To encourage 
the enemy in this delusion, the whole force halted in New 
Jersey and began laying out an elaborate and apparently perma- 
nent camp, which included a large bakery at Chatham. The 
French set up four ovens, and Christopher Ludwick, the 
American "Baker-General," may have set up another. Let 
the British spies report that! They did. Clinton had news 
on August 22 that a big new oven was being constructed. The 
conclusion was obvious (it was meant to be). If Washington 
was setting up such a big bakery in New Jersey, he meant to 
base his troops there. The French helped matters along by 
making sure their unmistakable white uniforms could be seen 
on the New Jersey side of the Hudson, by watchful redcoats 
on the other bank. 

General Washington assisted his opponents to further errors 
with a little more of the deception he loved to practice. An 
express with directions for a large camp "it seems conformable 
with his instructions" passed so near the enemy that he was 
captured. Colonel Elias Boudinot tells gleefully how General 
Washington managed to have a talk with an "old inhabitant 
of New York/' well known to be spying for the British. Eagerly, 
the apparently nai've commander-in-chief asked questions about 
the water supply and landing beaches on Long Island, the ter- 
rain around Middletown, New Jersey, just west of Sandy Hook, 
and conditions on Sandy Hook itself. Blandly (and quite un- 
truthfully) the general explained that there was no special rea- 


son for his questions no, indeed, no special reason at all. He 
was just "fond of knowing the Situation of different parts of 
the Country, as in the Course of the war he might unexpect- 
edly be called into that part of the Country." Nevertheless, he 
urged "the most profound Secrecy' 9 upon the Tory. He was 
"by no means to lisp a Word of what had passed between them." 
To make it all seem more convincing, American troops began to 
move, an hour later, along a road which could take them to 
Sandy Hookif they went far enough. 

A child could have seen George Washington was lying. So 
could the British spy; but he wholly misjudged the motives of 
this elaborate prevarication. Later that day, Colonel Elias 
Boudinot was at pains to have an accidental conversation with 
the enemy agent, who repeated everything Washington had 
said and was positive New York would be attacked by way of 
New Jersey and Long Island. "I doubt not but that, the british 
Gen! had it also the same Night," said Boudinot cynically. 

Within a few days, the first hints that American plans had 
changed were reaching the enemy's headquarters, but nothing 
whatever was done about them. By August 18, a German Jager 
officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ludwig Johann Adolph von Wurmb, 
learned through spies of his own that the Americans had es- 
tablished depots of food and forage all the way across New 
Jersey. He also learned that a French officer had sent his 
American mistress to Trenton. From these two facts, he con- 
cluded at once that Washington would march south, but he 
could not convince Clinton. On August 22 a New Jersey agent, 
signing only as "Squib," sent word: "It is said they will go 
against New York, but some Circumstances, induce me to 
believe they will go to the Cheasepeak. Yet for Gods sake be 
prepared at All Points." 

The destination of the American forces in New Jersey re- 
mained a mystery for some time, in spite of all the British 
secret agents who swarmed about it. On August 28, George 
Hamilton and Barnabash McMahon, of Goshen, Orange County, 
New York, came into New York. They had seen French troops 
at Pompton the preceding Sunday (the twenty-sixth); had es- 
timated their strength as three thousand; had chatted with an 

Spies Before Yorktown 341 

English servant of the Due de Lauzun, who confirmed their 
figure. (Only an eighteenth-century army would have kept a 
British servant at headquarters, while fighting the British!) 
The two had watched American troops passing through their 
home in Goshen, had counted artillery and ammunition wagons, 
and had even noted their positions in the column. They could 
locate General Benjamin Lincoln with seventeen hundred 
men at Aquacanunk Bridge and could tentatively locate Gen- 
eral Washington and his bodyguard at Pompton. The Ameri- 
cans were reported to be bringing boats to attack Staten Island. 

On August 30, two more agents arrived, reporting that the 
French ist Division had moved from Pompton to Old Whip- 
pany, ten miles from Morristown, where the 2nd Division had 
joined them. After a halt of two days they would move to 
Chatham, New Jersey; General Lincoln had marched toward 
Springfield, New Jersey; the militia toward Hackensack. These 
agents named the house where Washington had dined, reported 
his journey to Chatham, described artillery, noted that both 
French and Americans had boats with them, and gave a fairly 
accurate order of battle of both sides. 

They had also picked up gossip from a careless American 
"forage master" and others about supplies of forage at Prince- 
ton and Trenton. This should have warned Clinton that the 
French and Americans might cross the Delaware at Trenton 
as they actually did and might use their boats in doing so. 
But the boats might also indicate an attack on Manhattan and 
Staten Island, from the Jersey shore. 

The final plunge southward to attack Cornwallis at Yorktown 
was the best-kept secret of the Revolution. It is significant that 
the apparently loquacious General Parsons, who had babbled 
so freely to the spy, Heron, of previous American plans, was 
suddenly mute, though an officer of his rank could not fail to 
know the secret. Though British spies in New Jersey might 
watch the moving columns, they could form no definite idea of 
their destination. It was no use chatting with the troops. They 
themselves did not know where they were going, since the 
real plan had been kept from the enlisted personnel and most 
of the officers. The surgeon, James Thacher, had his suspicions, 


for he notes in his diary that New York was "ostensibly" the 
goal Others shared his suspicions and there was "much specu- 
lation/' but the Continental Army knew by this time that their 
wily commander matured "his great plans and designs under 
an impenetrable secrecy/' 

Not until September i were the British really sure that "some 
rebels" were moving on southward. General Washington's own 
arrival in Trenton might have given them a hint; but he had 
been careful to leave troops to threaten Staten Island as long 
as possible; and Clinton knew it was always possible that his 
sly opponent might only be making a long detour, after which 
he might double back to strike Sandy Hook and there co-operate 
with the French fleet against New York. 

On September %, the British commander at last had a clear 
idea what was happening, but even then he was not quite sure 
his idea was correct. He himself wrote: "By intelligence which 
I have this day received, it would seem that Mr. Washington 
is moving an army to the southward, with an appearance of 
haste and gives out that he expects the co-operation of a con- 
siderable French armament." A report of September 4 warned 
that De Grasse's fleet was landing troops to reinforce Lafayette 
on the south side of the James, and that Washington's army was 
approaching the Elk River, in Maryland. On September 6 an 
escaped British prisoner reported no American troops between 
West Point and Hackensack. 

The first definite prediction of an attack on Cornwallis came 
in September 8 and was followed September 15 by a report 
from one "Isaac R ": "the rebels are in the highest spirits 
& expect to destroy Lord Cornwallis." Meantime, to make sure 
what Clinton himself was doing, a courageous but unknown 
American spy, I. Jagger, had made three risky trips into New 
York City during September. 

More confirmation came to Clinton on September 18. A 
certain John Sturges, reaching New York on the sixteenth, was 
dilatory in reporting. It took him two days to visit headquarters 
with the news that Washington had passed Christiania Bridge, 
in Delaware, "on his march to Virgmia"~~news which came far 
too late, for the Americans had passed through Philadelphia 

Spies Before Yorktown 

September 2, and the French September 4. Sturges also reported 
that the Americans were collecting "Oyster boats and every 
kind of Vessel capable of containing men" at Head of Elk. 
These were the boats that took troops down Chesapeake Bay 
to Williamsburg, while French frigates brought the rest from 
Baltimore and Annapolis, a movement duly reported by British 
agents in Philadelphia again too late. 

Two more British agents, specially sent into Pennsylvania, 
picked up full details of the movement down Chesapeake Bay, 
correctly reporting the movement of French and New "York 
troops to Baltimore and of French troops to Annapolis, for em- 
barkation. These spies thought it would take General Wash- 
ington several days to "form a Junction with the Army in 
Virginia/' They added that the French had brought thirteen 
field guns and had drawn sixteen days' rations; and they gave 
a fairly correct strength report five thousand French, three 
thousand rebels based on the ration issue at Head of Elk. One 
of the British spies even got a peep at an American "Commis- 
sary's Estimate of Rations," a document which should have been 
top secret. Since, however, this shows the French forces at a 
figure twenty-five per cent too high, it is just possible General 
Washington was playing another of his little tricks. Whether 
this information was true or false, Clinton did not receive it 
till the end of September, when the siege of Yorktown began. 

These agents gave the usual report on the general's personal 
whereabouts: "Genl. Washington went immediately by land 
to Virginia," as ? in fact, he did; but there was no military 
reason for this. Like any other GI, the commander-in-chief was 
simply homesick. It was his first glimpse of Mount Vernon in 
six long years, a detail the spies forgot to mention. 

After assembling its full strength at Williamsburg, the in- 
ternational army, on September 28, 1781, converged on York- 
town, where Lafayette had pinned down Cornwallis. Though 
competent British spies had trailed the Franco-American Army 
all the way, it was too late now to save the redcoats trapped on 
the Yorktown Peninsula. French men-of-war blocked off the 
Royal Navy. Sir Henry Clinton could not quite make up his 
mind to march overland and assail Washington's rear. Sir 


Henry just stayed on Manhattan, with the Culpers, Hercules 
Mulligan, Daniel Bissell, and David Gray watching him though 
Sir Henry didn't know that. 

At three o'clock in the morning of October 22, 1781, the 
clatter of hasty hoofs broke the morning stillness of Phila- 
delphia. Lieutenant Colonel Tench Tilghman, of General 
Washington's staff, rode up to the house where Thomas Mc- 
Kean, president of the Continental Congress, lay sleeping. 
Colonel Tilghman had news that could not wait. He must 
have shouted it to the city watch as he rode in. Before the 
next hour struck, wakeful citizens could hear the hourly cry 
of the Pennsylvania German watchman on his rounds: 
"Basht dree o'glock, und Cornwallis isht da-ken." 
British intelligence had failed. Cornwallis 's army was gone. 
The British Empire had lost the war, and soon knew it. 




Duping Sir Henry Clinton 

As THE FINAL crisis of the Revolution approached, in the late 
summer o 1781, General Washington found himself in immedi- 
ate need of more intelligence from New York City and Long 
Island than Tallmadge, the Culpers, Dayton, the Mersereaus, 
Mulligan, and the various secret agents assisting them could sup- 
ply. Even after he had decided to attack Yorktown rather than 
New York, it remained necessary to keep a close eye on the 
powerful enemy force he was leaving behind. Washington and 
Rochambeau had to know what Sir Henry Clinton was capable 
of doing when they turned south, and several essential elements 
of information had thus far escaped the American intelligence 
service. How strong was Clinton's army? Ships loaded with 
redcoats had come in. Were they reinforcements from Eng- 
land? Or were Cornwallis's troops being moved north by sea? 

The men were, in fact, paroled prisoners, released after the 
Spaniards captured Pensacola, who would fight no more. Oliver 
Pollock, American agent in New Orleans, knew all about this 
British defeat, but had not been able to send the news fast 

An entirely new spy would have to go into New York for a 
few days, secure last-minute enemy intelligence from personal 



observation, and return at once. By August 12, 1781, General 
Washington had begun looking for the right man. By reveille, 
August 13, he had found Sergeant Daniel Bissell, of the 2nd 
Connecticut Line. By nightfall that same day, the sergeant was 
on his secret way to the British lines. Then suddenly, on the 
fourteenth, came word from Admiral de Grasse that the French 
fleet would soon arrive; and the decision was made at once to 
attack Cornwallis, in Yorktown, rather than Clinton, in New 

In that brief twenty-four hours, Sergeant Bissell had already 
won the confidence of the British and was moving freely 
through New York streets, secretly collecting the information 
General Washington wanted. It was too late to call the ser- 
geant back, but that did not matter very much. Even though 
Washington's and Rochambeau's men would soon be foot- 
slogging southward, General Heath would have to stay behind 
to hold Clinton in place. Any information Sergeant Bissell 
could bring back would be useful to Heath though, as affairs 
turned out, Sergeant Bissell did not return nearly so soon as 

At the close of a headquarters conference, August 12, 1781, 
the commander-in-chief had asked a small group of trusted 
officers to remain, among them Colonel Heman Swift, com- 
manding the 2nd Connecticut Line, at Peekskill. Someone, 
General Washington told them, would have to enter the British 
lines. He "enquired of those present who there was that could 
be hit upon to go upon an enterprize so arduous, and attended 
with such a measure of danger." Colonel Swift spoke up at 
once: "If his paymaster sergeant Daniel Bissell would under- 
take it, he would be the best man who could go." Sergeant 
Daniel Bissell was a Connecticut Yankee, from Windsor; had 
served at White Plains, Trenton and Monmouth; had been 
wounded; and was an N.C.O. much respected in his regiment. 

Accepting Swift's proposal at once, General Washington told 
him to arrange matters. British spies were still about. If any 
word reached the British, it must report Bissell as a genuine 
deserter. Just to make certain, General Washington would offi- 
cially list him as such. Everyone was so completely deceived 

Duping Sir Henry Clinton 347 

that the official records of his home town carried the sergeant 
as a deserter for a century and a half. 

Swift knew better than to attract attention by ordering the 
sergeant to Continental Army headquarters. An accidental 
meeting was the thing. The colonel one of those ideal regi- 
mental commanders who know all about their men as individ- 
ualsknew that his serious-minded quartermaster sergeant 
"usually rose the earliest of any/* even before the drums beat 
reveille; and the cold gray dawn found him loitering near Bis- 
sell's tent. 

Ere long, Sergeant Bissell emerged and, seeing his colonel, 
approached at once, learned what was needed, and after some 
natural hesitation agreed to go. Colonel Swift told him to 
walk in a specified direction and lie under an apple tree "till 
some one called him." After which, there can be no possible 
doubt, both colonel and sergeant went their separate ways as fast 
as possible. 

Reveille sounded, soldiers cursed as they rolled from their 
pleasantly warm blankets, arms rattled, lines formed, the 2nd 
Connecticut began its garrison day. But Sergeant Bissell was 
not at his usual post. Sergeant Bissell was lying under that 
apple tree. 

Within half an hour "a club was thrown into the tree/' Just 
why this unusual method of attracting the sergeant's attention 
was used, is not at all clear. Clubbing a chestnut tree was a 
traditional American way to bring down the burs; but clubbing 
an apple tree injures the fruit, and there are not many apples 
in New York in mid-August anyway. 

The officer whom Bissell saw, as the club crashed into the 
branches, was a country gentleman from Chusetown (now Sey- 
mour), Connecticut Colonel David Humphreys, a staff officer 
then serving as private secretary to General Washington. 

"Soldier, why are you here?" he asked. 

"I was ordered here/' replied Bissell. 

The inconsequential conversation not quite usual and yet 
natural enough to attract no attention, if overheard bears all 
the earmarks of the usual arranged exchange of recognition 


Humphreys at once handed Bissell a paper "written on 3 
sides/' telling him to "go to some bye-place," memorize it, then 
destroy It. (The extraordinary triangularity of this remarkable 
paper probably means only that it was written on both sides, 
the writing on one side being then "crossed" in another direc- 
tion.) It summarized the questions likely to be asked by the 
British guards and outposts, whom Bissell would have to pass 
on his way to New York. That the sergeant was able to repro- 
duce these instructions in his pension application, nearly forty 
years later, does not mean he disobeyed orders to destroy the 
paper. One of Bissell's special qualifications as a secret agent 
was his remarkable memory, which later enabled him to carry 
complex figures of British strength in his head, after destroying 
his notes, and to reproduce his Purple Heart citation years after 
it had been burned. 

The instructions Humphreys gave him are worth quoting: 

As Gen. Arnold is now in Virginia, with all the new 
raised corps, there will be no recruiting parties in New 
York; and as the fleet is not at the Hook, consequently 
there will be no press [gang] in the city; and with the 
money you carry in, you can get a protection from the 
Mayor or Police of the city, to go to Lloyd's Neck, thirty 
miles on Long Island, to cut wood for the Crown. After 
this, you will return to King's Bridge or Laurel Hill, and 
view the works there, obtain the number of each regi- 
ment, the number of men each contains, by whom com- 
manded, their several alarm posts, the number of cannon 
mounted in each work. You will view the works on York 
Island [Manhattan] in the same manner; get the whole 
number of regular forces, distinguishing the British from 
foreigners; the number of the new raised corps, and also 
the number of militia enrolled for the defence of the city. 
Get what information you can of their works and force at 
Powler's Hook [Paulus Hook, or Jersey City], also that of 
Staten Island. Obtain the number of Shipping in the Har- 
bour, and that at the [Sandy] Hook; and when you have 
completed your business here, you will pass over to Brook- 
lyn, view the works there, ascertain their force on Long- 

Duping Sir Henry Clinton 349 

Colonel Humphreys further told the sergeant to "fix off as 
near as he could, as if he was going to desert." He was to take 
his silver shoe buckles and his watch, articles no deserter would 
leave behind, but which a spy would hardly carry (Nathan Hale 
had been careful to discard his silver shoe buckles, but he was 
not posing as a deserter), and put on two or three suits of cloth- 
ing, one over the other. A real deserter, not daring to advertise 
his intentions by carrying baggage about the American camp, 
might naturally take extra clothing with him by this device, 
which, odd as it sounds, was not unusual. 

Benedict Arnold is specifically referred to in the instructions, 
because the first task the British had given him was to organize 
a new force, composed mainly of American deserters. Such 
deserters as escaped Arnold's clutches were likely to be pressed 
into the Royal Navy; but, with Arnold in Virginia and the 
British fleet out of New York harbor, Washington hoped his 
new spy might have a chance of getting back before he was com- 
pelled to join the enemy. 

When the sergeant had "got the business completed," he was 
to make his way to Whitestone, Long Island, where a boat 
would be waiting to take him off. He was expected to return 
"the seventh or ninth" night and the boat would lie offshore for 
these nights only. The time limit, as it turned out, was far too 
short. No agent, operating within the enemy lines, can keep to 
so strict a schedule. The boat should have waited a good deal 
longer and, in case Bissell failed to appear, one of the other 
networks should have investigated his fate. 

The amount of information the sergeant was expected to 
collect in a single week was enormous. However, the area to be 
covered was fairly small; armies then were less complex than 
they have since become; and Washington can hardly have ex- 
pected to get all the information he had asked for. Any secret 
service will ask for all it can get, then be content with a great 
deal less. 

As the spy set out, Colonel Swift handed him a letter, ad- 
dressed to the commander of the outpost at Croton Bridge, 
"whither he was directed to steer." In his account of this inci- 
dent, as given in his later affidavit, Sergeant Bissell says that k 


was ordered to wait till "the time the army was on the parade 
for evening roll-call." That would keep most American soldiers 
out of the way. He was then to "quit the Regiment, go to a 
bridge between the army and Col. Schammel's Light Infantry, 
where I should meet Col. Swift, who would give me further 
instructions. Col. Swift directed me to call on Col. Schammel 
at his marquee at nine o'clock in the evening/' By nine o'clock 
in a New York August, it would be growing dark. The "de- 
serter" would get a fairly early start into the city, yet it would 
be impossible for anyone to recognize him. 

Though Bissell does not mention the incident in his affidavit, 
the rare printed account of his adventures describes how he 
handed the letter Swift had given him to an officer at the out- 
post, who plainly must have been Colonel Schammel. The spy 
caught a glimpse of the letter, as the colonel opened it. "There 
was not a scratch of a pen inside." It seems clear that Schammel 
had orders to send forward through the lines any sergeant who 
handed him a blank letter. 

Colonel Schammel personally took the spy past all his guards 
and, as they passed the last post, remarked "that he had ordered 
off all guards and patrols from the North River road (until 
after midnight) down as far as Croton Bridge, that being the 
extent of our lines." There would be no trouble from Ameri- 
cans. Sooner or later a British sentry would challenge. The 
sergeant was to reply: "Friend to Britain." 

Since the British had by this time learned to be cautious in 
dealing with ostensible deserters, various officers questioned 
Bissell carefully, "a great number of ways," before allowing him 
to enter the city. Then he was turned over to a certain Captain 
Neff, who at once urged him to enlist. 

Too late, Sergeant Bissell discovered that Colonel Hum- 
phreys had been wrong about Benedict Arnold. The New York 
spies had failed to inform Washington that, just before the 
sergeant's arrival, the traitor had returned to New York and 
established his recruiting parties, wherever deserters could come 
in. To make matters worse, the British fleet had also returned, 
and its press gangs were conducting what the sergeant later 
described as a "hot press" that is, an unusually vigorous em- 

Duping Sir Henry Clinton 351 

ployment of the Royal Navy's legal right to seize men in the 
streets and force them into service. 

Worst of all, Sir Henry Clinton had ordered no more protec- 
tion given to deserters. Until shortly before BisselFs arrival, any 
American entering the British lines in New York could secure 
"a piece of stamped coin" presumably some kind of metal 
token which entitled him to wander New York streets unmo- 
lested. (No wonder Sir Henry was "somewhat troubled with 
spies/') The new orders required deserters to give bail, pay 70 
cash or enlist. As a practical matter, this meant they had to 
enlist, since no one in New York was likely to go bail for a total 
stranger, and no deserter ever had 70. 

Thinking with commendable speed, Sergeant Bissell enlarged 
his family circle with an entirely imaginary Tory uncle, some- 
where in New York. His uncle, he explained to the too-credu- 
lous Captain Neff, would provide bail as soon as Bissell could 
find him. If the captain had been just a little bit brighter, he 
would have demanded identification of the uncle. Instead, he 
gave the deserter a single guard and let him start looking for 
his nonexistent relative. In so small a town as New York City, 
this search could not be dragged out forever; but Bissell made 
it last all day and even persuaded the guard to let him stray 
from his assigned quarters to spend the night at a tavern. 

When the wandering pair returned, a day late, Captain Neff 
exhibited irritation, which turned out to be mostly pretense. 
After the spy had explained volubly that, even if he could not 
find his uncle, he was sure he could get bail, the captain became 
conciliatory, sent out for wine, drank with him and then put 
up the bail himself! Next day Bissell resumed his quest, getting 
a still better idea of the British forces as he moved about. 

All would have gone well had he not, at this critical moment, 
been "violently seized with a bilious cholic." The only way to 
get medical attention was to enlist in the British Army at once 
and have the benefits of an army hospital. According to one 
account, Bissell was ill for six weeks, but this must refer only to 
the most violent part of his illness, for he did not get out of the 
military hospital in Flushing till December and was then sent 
to his regimental hospital a barn on Harlem Heights. The 


barn was near the American lines, but Bissell was too ill to seize 
the chance this gave him. 

A military hospital in the Revolution was not, in either army, 
in the least like the model institutions in which the U. S. Army 
Medical Corps takes care of modern GFs. Here, said Bissell in 
his later affidavit, "my suffering was truly great; without fire 
the greatest part of the time, only wood allowed for the purpose 
of cooking our pork and beans; without attendance; but one 
additional blanket to two men; without shifting my clothes for 
three months; covered with head and body lice; unable to 

Worst of all, he could not be sure what he had said in the 
delirium of his fever. The medical officer in charge gave him 
some queer looks and seemed to have very definite suspicions; 
but the doctor was either a secret American sympathizer or one 
of those medical officers who see little sense in restoring a man 
to health from fever, only to send him to a gallows, which will 
be even worse for his health. Later, the doctor gave him a quiet 
hint; and Bissell ruefully remarked long afterward that he al- 
ways had talked in his sleep. 

Since a good supply sergeant is always in demand, Captain 
Robert Rowley, Brigadier General Benedict Arnold's quarter- 
master, took over the American deserter as soon as he was able 
to leave hospital. Rowley was a decent fellow, of whom Bissell 
remarked later that "to his kind attention to my health, I owe 
my escape." Just to be on the safe side, the new quartermaster 
sergeant saw to it that "his best exertions were given to all the 
duties assigned him." 

Humphreys^ failure to arrange a line of communication led 
to disaster almost at once. Just as Bissell entered the city, Bene- 
dict Arnold was planning his New London raid and made the 
attack September 6, 1781, three weeks after the new spy had 
begun observation. Bissell knew all about it before going to 
hospital, but had no way whatever of getting the news to the 
Americans. Captain David Gray, another American spy operat- 
ing within the British intelligence system of whose presence 
Bissell did not know learned Arnold's plans so late that he 

Duping Sir Henry Clinton 353 

reached New London with warning only a few hours before the 

When Sergeant Bissell realized that there was no immediate 
chance of escape, he settled down to his duties, issued supplies, 
and won the esteem of the unsuspecting Captain Rowley, keep- 
ing the quartermaster records straight and his eyes open. In- 
formation of the most valuable kind passed through his hands, 
month after month. He knew the strength and location of 
British units, because he sent them their supplies. He could 
judge the number of men at a given post by the fuel and rations 
sent them. He was continually "enquiring of the Serg ts & oth- 
ers/' and once he heard a senior officer discussing the strength 
of the garrison and giving the figures. After assembling all this 
information, he "compared the several Reports together." 
Wholly unsuspected, he "exerted his utmost care & ability in 
obtaining information of the strength 8c state of the Enemy 

Even at this distance in time, it is maddening to think of all 
this information in the American spy's hands; of the Culper and 
Dayton networks, constantly forwarding much less valuable 
intelligence; of the American double agent, Gray, going back 
and forth between the innocent Clinton and the guileful Wash- 
ingtonand of the total waste of all Bissell learned, at the very 
time when the American staff needed it worst. 

When on May 5, 1782, Sir Guy Carleton arrived to replace 
Sir Henry Clinton, BisselFs danger increased. The humane 
Clinton did not like to hang spies. Carleton ordered ruthlessly 
"that any Persons being discovered to have written Information 
would be treated as Spies." 

Though Bissell made haste to destroy his notes, he had 
worked them over and corrected them so often that he retained 
the most essential information in his capacious memory. The 
oral report he gave Continental headquarters later includes 
the exact strength of regiments, troop movements, the condition 
of naval vessels, movement of naval vessels all stated with care- 
ful distinction between information he had been able to base on 
personal observation and other information, obtained from 
secondary sources. 


One account says that Bissell was with the British until May, 
1782, when Sir Guy Carleton took command in Manhattan. 
Bissell himself is quoted as saying that festivities celebrating 
the king's birthday drew all officers away from Staten Island 
and enabled him to escape. But neither of these statements can 
be accepted. The only early printed account says that Bissell 
reached Washington's headquarters on September 29, 1783; and 
this is confirmed by the American intelligence report, which 
gives September 27, 1782, as the date of his escape from Staten 
Island. George III was born June 4. The British celebration 
on "York Island" was really in honor of the anniversary of his 

Whatever the occasion, every officer who could leave his post 
went to New York to help celebrate. Armies being what they 
are, that meant that only a few very junior subalterns remained 
on duty. Bissell and a Virginian named Headwater saw their 
chance to get away. (Who Headwater was, and why he was 
serving with the British, has never been explained.) 

As an excuse for wandering out into the country, the pair 
asked for a pass to go out to buy a pig and some butter. A lieu- 
tenant flatly refused it. At that moment, the officer's wife de- 
cided that she, too, would like some butter, and the pass was 

To disarm suspicion, the pair took along a ten-year-old boy, 
explaining that he was "to carry the rope and lead the pig." 
They wandered off into rural Staten Island, were caught beyond 
the limits of their pass, turned dutifully back, but as soon as 
they were at a safe distancetook cover in the nearest woods. 

For some reason never explained, they now told the child 
with them that they meant to desert. When he burst into a 
flood of tears, crying that deserters were always caught, they 
had to quiet him, and then took time to pray before trying to 
cross into New Jersey, an effort which went on all night, with- 
out success. When dawn came, they heard alarm guns, after 
which search parties with dogs appeared; and the fugitives had 
to stand the better part of a day, nearly submerged, on a rock 
in a swamp or stream. 

When darkness fell, they waded ashore and again began seek- 

Duping Sir Henry Clinton 355 

ing means of escape. Sometime after midnight, Bissell saw a 
boat approaching an old mill, its occupant probably being some- 
body smuggling fresh meat from the New Jersey shore, for the 
benefit of British troopsa popular and profitable activity 
among local farmers. As the man came within pistol shot, Bis- 
sell raised an object of some kind, about the size of a horse pis- 
tol, and ordered him ashore. One account says he leveled a 
stick at the man. Another account says it was a knife. What- 
ever it was, it looked dangerous. 

"Come ashore or I will put this ball to your heart!" snarled 
Bissell, in his best gangster style. 

Coming out of pitch darkness in a menacing tone, the threat 
had its effect. All the terrified Tory could see was a soldier with 
a long object pointing straight at him. There was a somewhat 
acrimonious interchange when he reached land and found how 
he had been tricked; but as the fellow was all alone in the night 
with two determined men, he had to take them on board and 
start for the Jersey shore. Somewhere en route, the ten-year-old 
disappears from the narrative. Probably he was simply sent 

Bissell was well aware that the British command kept a guard 
boat rowing along shore at half-hour intervals. Now, it is a 
fatal mistake to keep any patrol moving on a fixed schedule, 
either afloat or ashore, since, if fugitives or intruders know the 
schedule, it is easy to avoid discovery. So it was in this case. As 
the guard boat splashed toward them, Bissell made the two 
others lie down with him. In a few minutes the British craft 
was out of sight, its occupants quite unaware of what they had 

At last Sergeant Bissell's troubles were over. The row across 
the Hudson was no great matter. The darkness gave shelter. 
Their oarsman was well aware that he was rowing for his life- 
there was no metaphor about that. Without difficulty, and 
probably before dawn, they reached New Jersey, where the 
magnanimous Bissell presented their involuntary Charon with 
a half guinea, after which he and Headwater left the bank of 
the Hudson as speedily as possible. By noon, they were in 
Newark, greatly embarrassed by their British uniforms. 


The astonishing thing is that no one there did anything about 
it when two men in the enemy's uniform appeared openly in 
the streets. In Revolutionary Jersey, flags of truce were always 
coming in from the enemy's side of the river. Raids were just 
as possible as flags of truce. A whole column of redcoats might 
have been close behind that mysterious pair of British soldiers. 
Prudent civilians looked the other way. 

Bissell and his companion did not strain their luck too far. 
Sooner or later they would encounter American troops, who 
might shoot first and inquire later. One of the two was ac- 
quainted with a local judge. Straight to his courtroom they 
went, the entry of their scarlet uniforms creating a mild sensa- 
tion. His Honor recognized his friend (whichever one it was) 
instantly. Rounding up an American guard to protect them, he 
explained the situation to the puzzled Newark authorities. 
Bissell reached headquarters on September 29, 1782, with a 
great deal of valuable intelligence. By this time, however, in- 
telligence was plentiful. An officer of the French forces at Mor- 
ristown at this time notes: "Not a day has passed since we have 
drawn near the enemy that we have not had some news of them 
from our spies in New York and in several other towns in the 
neighborhood, or from some deserters." 

BisselFs was the last secret service adventure of the war. Al- 
ready flags of truce had begun to pass constantly to and fro. 
The war was not formally over, nor would it be until the pro- 
visional agreement of November 30, 1782, was confirmed by a 
definitive treaty. Nevertheless, Congress proclaimed the end 
of hostilities April 19, 1783, exactly eight years after Lexington 
and Concord, though the final treaty of peace was not signed 
until September 3. 

Meantime, the late enemy became amusingly affable. Sir 
Henry Clinton announced to General Washington that his 
future intentions were entirely peaceful, after which Sir Henry 
himself gave up and went home, politely notifying his late 
adversary that Sir Guy Carleton would assume command. Sir 
Guy, equally polite, reported his arrival in New York to Gen- 
eral Washington and eventually went up the Hudson to Tappan 
to confer with him. 

Duping Sir Henry Clinton 357 

"Partial though our suspension of hostilities may be called/' 
said Carleton, he himself was "no longer able to discern the 
object we contend for." He even sent money to pay for wine 
which British prisoners had stolen from a French officer. 

General Washington, not much impressed, remained suspi- 
cious. Was this a trick? If the British wanted peace so much, 
why didn't they stop the Indian raids on the frontier? Besides, 
there were rumors of a planned attack from Canada on Albany, 
and another attack on Boston. 

Tallmadge and his spies still watched and waited. Neverthe- 
less, as military operations were reduced almost to the vanishing 
point, espionage became less active, though General Washing- 
ton, taking no chances, always knew what the redcoats were 
doing. In May, 1782, he still had a suspicious eye on what the 
enemy were about in Halifax, and General David Forman was 
ordered to maintain his watch upon the British fleet in New 
York harbor. Tallmadge crossed secretly to Long Island to con- 
sult Culper, Sr., though he failed to see John Cork, busily spy- 
ing in Manhattan, with a special eye on the fleet. Other 
American secret agents, remaining at their posts, continued to 
report, and Tallmadge sent in new agents to supplement intelli- 
gence from the resident agents. 

All the intelligence the spies could gather, however, indicated 
that the enemy was acting in good faith. It was interesting to 
learn that General Carleton expected to leave New York City 
before long, since he had leased his quarters only until May, 
1783. Six spies at once, with new and hitherto unknown ini- 
tials, reported on British troop dispositions in and near New 
York. Another spy sent a map, showing posts and fortifications 
on Manhattan; but they all seemed merely defensive. "Anony- 
mous/' from Charleston, reported that the British would leave 
the city soon and meant thereafter to evacuate New York. Cul- 
per, Jr., and General Forman both reported the fleet had sailed 
for Charleston to take them off. In January, 1783, there was 
more confirmation. Tallmadge's spies said the Charleston gar- 
rison was arriving in New York. Tories were leaving the city 
as fast as they could. 

When the Americans were at last convinced the British were 


sincere, the intelligence service became rather desultory. Spies' 
reports grew steadily less frequent during the first six months 
of 1783, until, on July 3, came the last message from Samuel 
Culper, Sr. "account of expenses incurred in obtaining secret 
intelligence,'* prosaic conclusion to a romantic tale. 

Finally a strange irony Sir Guy Carleton began to submit 
British secret service reports to General Washington! There 
seemed to be a plot to plunder New York and assault any re- 
maining Tories. There ought to be no interval between the 
withdrawal of the red uniforms and the entry of the blue and 
buff, if public order was to be maintained. 

Thus warned by the enemy's accommodating spies, General 
Washington took proper measures. There was no disorder, for 
the British were still in sight in the harbor as the Americans 
marched into the city. Tallmadge, at his own request, entered 
the city first, so that he might protect his agents. General Wash- 
ington himself went to take his first breakfast in Manhattan 
with the spy, Hercules Mulligan; and one officer always said, in 
after years, that he had been with his chief and heard the clink- 
ing of the coin, when the general went to see the supposed 
Tory, James Rivington, with a great big bag of gold. 


The Spies Go Safely Out of Business 

WHEN THE WAR was over, the spies of both sides went thank- 
fully back to everyday affairs as unobtrusively as possible, a little 
surprised to be alive at all after long service in their perilous 
trade. Only one, John Howe, ever did secret service work again. 

Samuel Wallis, after innumerable acts of treason against his 
country, settled back into a role of utter Philadelphian Quaker 
respectability. He was loyal to his king, of course; but now the 
rebels were victorious; and there was no one to whom Samuel 
Wallis was quite so loyal as to Samuel Wallis. He had insured 
his own safety, in case the Americans won, by preserving an out- 
wardly patriotic attitude. He had at the same time insured hi& 
safety, if the British won, by numerous and valuable but secret 
services to Sir William Howe and Sir Henry Clinton. When 
the independence of the United States was recognized, he re- 
mained one of its prominent, wealthy and respected citizens* 
His standing as a Quaker pacifist was unimpaired. He had 
never engaged in acts of war, which would have sinfully vio- 
lated the principles of the Society of Friends. 

Even after Arnold had fled and his Peggy had joined him, 
Wallis was still able to do business for the traitor, secretly. 
Peggy Arnold's receipt, dated New York, January 6, 1781, still 



exists "in full of all Accounts, of M* Samuel Wallace of Penn- 
sylvania, the Sum of Two Hundred Guineas, ordered to be paid 
by M* Wallace to General Arnold." Wallis was still doing busi- 
ness behind the enemy lines as late as October, 1781, and his 
friend, Joseph Stansbury, as late as July. 

Stansbury returned to Philadelphia in 1783; but, when a note 
flung in at his door warned him he might easily die, he fled to 
safe obscurity in New York. He was threatened only because 
he was a known Tory; the real extent of his treason remained 
undiscovered until modern times; and, when he settled in Nova 
Scotia, a royal commission refused him compensation for his 

By a crowning irony, Gershom Hicks whose daring recon- 
noissance, alone in the Iroquois wilderness, had helped to 
thwart Wallis's plots against the Sullivan expedition went to 
work as Wallis's employee. Both men died, never guessing they 
had been on opposite sides in the secret service. Hicks appears 
in Wallis's land records as owner of four hundred acres, April 
5, 1793. A letter of Wallis's from the frontier in 1794 notes: 
"Gershom Hicks and Samuel Oaks are sent down in order to 
bring up a canoe load of stores to Chestnut falls." 

Four other British secret agents ended their days in America, 
unsuspected. John Rattoon, who had piloted so many spies and 
carried so many messages for Benedict Arnold, remained quietly 
in New Jersey. Though Metcalf Bowler, Clinton's Rhode Is- 
land spy, was impoverished by the war, he later made a name as 
a horticulturalist and his daughter (who probably never 
dreamed of her papa's doings) married a French officer a mar- 
quis, no less! "Hiram the Spy" continued to dwell peacefully 
in Redding, Connecticut. There may have been a few suspi- 
cious whispers, and people thought him a little haughty and 
conservative; but they elected him to the Connecticut Assembly 
again and again, until 1796. He died in the utmost respecta- 
bility in 1819, and not till ninety-nine years after the Revolu- 
tion was his treason proved. 

John Howe, who had spied so successfully for General Gage, 
settled in Canada. When the War of 1812 appeared on the 
horizon, the British government, remembering his earlier serv- 

The Spies Go Safely Out of Business 361 

ices, sent the old spy back to the United States, to make a secret 
report on American military preparations and the mood of the 
people. He traveled through the country, wholly unsuspected, 
went back to Canada, and turned in a model of what a secret 
intelligence report should be. It came to light only when the 
archives were opened, long, long after. 

Known British agents rarely tried to see their homes again. 
Peggy Arnold paid one visit to her family, but had a very frosty 
reception in Philadelphia. Her husband met with some con- 
tempt in England and once fought a duel with the Earl of Lau- 
derdale, who had alluded scornfully to his treason. But Clinton 
saw to getting pensions for Peggy and the children. 

The British Army, understandably, did not want such a man 
on active duty. Arnold drew a colonel's half pay for life, en- 
gaged in business, visited New Brunswick, begat a bastard by an 
unknown woman there, was involved in an insurance scandal 
(being, for once, innocent). The story that he called for his 
American uniform on his death bed is pure fiction. 

James Moody settled in Nova Scotia, became colonel of a 
militia regiment, died at sixty-five, on half pay. William Ran- 
kin and Cortlandt Skinner lived the rest of their lives in Eng- 
land, receiving compensation for their lost estates. 

Ann Bates, deserted by her husband, sick and in direst 
poverty, is last heard from, desperately imploring the British 
government to pay the 10 pension promised in the days when 
her services were beyond price. She was a little bitter: "Haid I 
Boon half as much for the Scruff of Mankind I mean the Rabls 
I Should not be thus Left to Parish. Was I in Amarica Now to 
share the same fate of my Noble Unfortunate frind Major An- 
drew [Andr] it would be much better for me then to Drawg 
out a life Which all Laws humain and Divine forbids me to 
Putt a Period too." 

Her old friend, Colonel Drummond, came gallantly to her 
rescue. In Ann's claim for pension, he wrote, she asserted 
"nothing but what is strictly true," and, during the war, "her 
information as to Matter and fact, was far superior to every 
other intelligence." 

The widow of Moses Dunbar, the Tory spy of Bristol, Con- 


necticut, was not molested, and later remarried. Passing 
through Hartford in after years, she glanced over toward Gal- 
lows Hill with the remark: "That is the tree on which my poor 
first husband was hung." 

Some of the American spies let slip their secrets. Captain 
David Gray and Captain Caleb Bruen admitted having been 
the enemy's secret agents; but everybody knew it had been only 
on behalf of the Americans. After his return to the Continental 
Army, Gray continued to serve as quartermaster, until he was 
discharged in October, 1783, at Fort Wyoming (Wilkes-Barre, 
Pennsylvania). He seems to have been sent into the Susque- 
hanna wilderness to make sure the British would never capture 
him. (Champe had been discharged for the same reason,) 

Settling in Vermont, where he had done so much espionage, 
Gray published a pamphlet on his adventures. The last copy 
was burned in a fire at the State Library in Albany, in 191 1. He 
told his story again in a petition to the Massachusetts Legisla- 
ture, but that vanished, too. Fortunately, he told it a third 
time in his pension claim of 1823, which still survives in the 
National Archives. Discovery of this unknown manuscript in 
the course of the present study, makes it possible to tell his true 
story at last. 

Bruen, suspected and imprisoned by the enemy near the end 
of the war, returned to Newark in shattered health, but recov- 
ered and lived on for years, a well-known businessman. 

Enoch Crosby went back to farming, served as a justice of 
the peace in Southeast, New York, deputy sheriff, and deacon 
in the Presbyterian Church, receiving in the end $250 for his 
secret services. It was often said that he inspired confidence in 
all who talked with him. Many a rueful Tory could have testi- 
fied to that! A book about his adventures, The Spy Unmasked, 
appeared in 1828, and Lafayette's grandson was interested 
enough to secure a copy. When a play based on James Feni- 
more Cooper's novel, The Spy^ was produced in New York, the 
old man, appearing in a box, was much applauded. Cooper in- 
sisted he had never heard the name of Enoch Crosby, but the 
correspondence between some of his novel's episodes and the 
real spy's adventures is hardly accidental, though Cooper was 

The Spies Go Safely Out of Business 363 

sincere in what he said. He had heard the tale from John Jay, 
who, with a lawyer's caution, named no names. 

Major Clark ended his days as a successful lawyer in York, 
Pennsylvania, returning to service to help defend Baltimore in 
the War of 1812. Each Fourth of July, he donned his uniform 
again and sat on the front porch. 

Isaac Barker lived on into his eighties, still farming, at Mid- 
dletown, serving a term or two in the legislature. His exploits 
were no secret, now. The old man rather liked to talk about 
them, but never, for some strange reason, with his friend Wil- 
liam Wilkinson, who had handled his reports for General 

The Quaker heroine, Lydia Darragh, remained in Philadel- 
phia, telling her story, sometimes, to a daughter who was wise 
enough to write it down. 

Sergeant Major Champe married and settled in Virginia, 
where, after the war, he received a visit from the Tory officer 
who had commanded his company in Arnold's legion. Amica- 
bly enough, the two old soldiers discussed what Champe had 
really been doing. Later, he moved to Kentucky, then to Ohio. 
When a French war loomed, as the century closed, General 
Washington remembered him and wanted to commission him 
too late, for Champe had died in 1796. Light Horse Harry Lee 
had promised him a commission as a reward for his secret serv- 
ice; but, as Champe was released from the army for his own 
safety, as soon as he returned, the promise was never fulfilled. 
To become an officer had been the sergeant major's greatest 
ambition another irony. 

Sergeant Daniel Bissell was rewarded with the "badge of 
merit," being one of the first men to receive the bit of purple 
silk that is today the Purple Heart. It has been said he was, like 
Champe, discharged as soon as he returned, lest the British 
capture and execute him; but the military records tell a differ- 
ent story. Bissell was still on his company's muster roll till 1783, 
though there is an eloquent gap from August, 1781, to Septem- 
ber, 1782, while he was with the British. He left Connecticut 
for Richmond, New York, lured by land at $2.12 an acre. When 
his house burned, he lost his military papers and the silken 


Purple Heart, which he kept in the family Bible. When, in 
his old age, pensions were offered Revolutionary veterans, his 
remarkable memory, which had retained his secret instructions 
and the results of a year's espionage, served him again. He 
could write out the citation Washington had given him some 
forty years after the award. Two old army friends, David 
Humphreys and David Cobb, both generals now, made formal 
statements of his service, and the old spy received his pension. 

The people of Windsor, Connecticut, though shocked when 
a local antiquarian found Bissell's name upon the town records 
as a deserter, built a monument to him when they learned the 
truth. Hale, Andre, and Bissell must be the only spies in his- 
tory thus honored. 

All three of the Mersereaus, Joshua, John and John La- 
Grange, lived on to ripe old ages. Joshua became surrogate, 
first of Tioga County, New York, then of Chenango County. 
John became a little boastful in his old age: ' 'There was none 
in our army that run so many risks and underwent so many 
hardships and fatigues as I did." It was claiming too much, no 
doubt; but if we had the whole story, it might not be very far 
from the truth, 

Samuel Woodhull and Robert Townsend allowed their iden- 
tity as "the Culpers" to die, silently, though Robert Townsend 
was dreadfully embarrassed when his family discovered his Brit- 
ish uniform among some old clothes. Major Tallmadge, as a 
prominent citizen of Litchfield, Connecticut, told part of the 
Culpers' story not, alas! all he could have told but never let 
slip the least hint of their identity. So far as known, neither of 
"the Culpers*' ever said a word of their really brilliant services. 
Hercules Mulligan was nearly as silent. It is probable that 
neither the Culpers nor Mulligan ever guessed how many other 
spy rings had been at work. 

Caleb Brewster and Joshua Davis, who had manned the Cul- 
per whaleboats, were less reticent. Everyone knew of their 
service and Davis told many a thrilling tale. 

When, years after the war, President Washington visited 
Long Island, he let it be known he would be glad to see the 
men who had helped him so much. Austin Roe, riding to meet 

The Spies Go Safely Out of Business 365 

the President, took a fall, broke his leg, and could not go on. 
It is by no means certain that the Culpers even tried to go. It 
is possible they were a little ashamed of their great services to 
the nation. For them the spy's reward: danger, imminent dis- 
grace, poor pay or none at all. 

So, as the years went on, the spies died and the earth took 
them. Sergeant Bissell alone was decorated; but then, the Con- 
tinental Army had only one ribbon to give, and few men 
received it. It was a century or more before the stigma of 
desertion was removed from Bissell's name, though Chainpe 
was publicly cleared as soon as he returned. Intelligence offi- 
cers who doubled as spies received their ordinary promotions- 
nothing more. Elijah Hunter asked General Washington for a 
certificate of service and received it. Few, if any, others received 
even that. They had done their duty silently. Only an inner 
circle of specially trusted officers were allowed to know what 
that duty had been. After the war, silence still seemed wise; and 
even now the records will not give up the whole story. But the 
one man who knew most of that story though even he was far 
from knowing all was grateful. Perhaps the gratitude of the 
man at Mount Vernon was enough. 


Inevitably, in a study extending over a period of many years, 
one accumulates more obligations for friendly and disinterested 
aid than one can possibly acknowledge; and I have been able 
to set down here only the greatest of my obligations. In this 
book, as in others, my chief debt is to the Yale University 
Librarywhere privileges were granted me by James T. Babb, 
Librarianand to its incomparable staff, especially Harry P. 
Harrison, head of the Circulation Department, and Dr. Archi- 
bald Hanna, of the Coe Collection. Dr. Howard H. Peckham, 
Director, and Dr. William S. Ewing, Curator of Manuscripts 
in the Clements Library, University of Michigan, together 
with their staff, have replied swiftly, competently, and patiently 
to a continual stream of inquiries. Stephen T. Riley, Librarian 
of the Massachusetts Historical Society; Robert W. Hill, 
Keeper of Manuscripts and F. Ivor D. Avellino, of the New 
York Public Library; David C. Mearns, chief of the Manu- 
scripts Division, and Mrs. Vincent L. Eaton, of the Manuscript 
Room, Library of Congress; Dr. R. W. G. Vail, Director, and 
James J. Heslin, of the New-York Historical Society; W. Neill 
Franklin, Frank E. Bridgers, McLeod Phanelson, of the Na- 
tional Archives; Dr. Francis S. Ronalds, Superintendent, and 
Dr. Walter Hugins, until recently Park Historian, at the Mor- 



ristown National Historical Park, N. J., have all labored end- 
lessly to assist me. Dr. Ronalds personally guided me to numer- 
ous sources that, without him, I should have missed entirely. 
Edward O. Mills, New York City, performed a similar service. 
Miss Mary McNerney, of the Seymour Public Library, and 
Miss Marjorie Woodruff, of the Ansonia Public Library, have 
aided in securing microfilms and interlibrary loans; and Miss 
Woodruff guided me to records of Nehemiah Marks's family 
in Derby. With the help of Major Kenneth C. Miller, Wash- 
ington's Headquarters and Museum, Newburgh, N. Y., I was 
able to locate Nathaniel Sackett's retained personal copy of a 
report to Washington (the signature being torn from the orig- 
inal), which for the first time identifies Sackett as the head 
of a spy ring working in New York early in 1777. Dr. Jo- 
sephine L. Harper, Manuscript Librarian of the State Histori- 
cal Society of Wisconsin, has helped locate obscure materials 
in the Draper Manuscripts, which, though originally collected 
as materials for western frontier history, sometimes provide 
surprising information on events in the eastern theatre of 
operations. Colonel Fairfax Downey has advised on the theft 
and sabotage of artillery, and Walter Pforzheimer, of Wash- 
ington, has allowed me to use his unique private manuscript 
collection. Mrs. Marjorie G. Bouquet, Deputy Supervisor of 
Reference and Research Services, Boston Public Library, solved 
the problem presented by George R. T. Hewes. 

In special problems, I have had special aid as follows: 

The Barker spy ring and Geoffrey Wenwood: Herbert O. 
Brigham, of the Newport Historical Society; Clarence S. 
Brigham, American Antiquarian Society; Clarkson Collins, III, 
Rhode Island Historical Society; Dr. C. P. Whittemore, South 
Kent School; Miss Mary T. Quinn, Assistant for Archives, 
Rhode Island Department of State. 

Ann Bates: Professor Willard M. Wallace, Wesleyan Uni- 
versity, who generously lent me his notes while I was waiting 
for microfilm from London and who allowed me the privilege 
of consulting about later discoveries. 

Sergeant Daniel Bissell: Miss E. Marie Becker, Reference 

Acknowledgments 369 

Librarian of the New-York Historical Society, who called my 
attention to entirely unknown printed source material; A. R. 
Thompson, of West Hartford, who sent me his photostats; Miss 
Adeline H. Mix, Windsor Public Library; Miss Christine 
Stokes and Harold W. Ryan, of the National Archives. D. W. 
King, Librarian of the War Office, London, finally provided 
an explanation of Sergeant Daniel BisselFs escape from the 
British forces on which he was spying a remarkable instance 
of international co-operation! 

Daniel Bliss: Miss Elizabeth R. Pickard, Concord Free Pub- 
lic Library, and Clifford K. Shipton, Custodian of the Harvard 
University Archives. 

Elias Boudinot: H. Kels Swan, South Bound Brook, N.J., 
owner of a collection of Boudinot manuscripts, and Miss Jean- 
nette D. Black, assistant in the John Carter Brown Library. 

Caleb Bruen: Miss Miriam V. Studley, Principal Librarian, 
New Jersey Division, Newark Public Library; Edwin A. Bald- 
win, of the Genealogical Society of New Jersey; Donald Lines 
Jacobus, of the American Genealogist; and Richard Lum, of 
Lum, Fairlie, & Foster, Newark. 

Codes and ciphers: Colonel William F. Friedman, formerly 
of the Signal Intelligence Service, and former Director of the 
Army Security Agency; Dr. Julian Boyd, editor of the Jefferson 
Papers, who is familiar with Mr. Jefferson's secret communica- 
tions; Robert E. Stocking, University of Virginia Library; Wil- 
liam J. Van Schreeven, Virginia State Archivist. 

Connecticut spies: Miss Hazel A. Johnson and Dean Gertrude 
E. Noyes, Connecticut College; Miss Ada M. Stoflet, Reference 
Librarian, University of Iowa; Kenneth B. Homes, Newspaper 
Librarian, State Historical Society of Missouri; Charles Van 
Ravenswaay, Missouri Historical Society; Mrs. Marjorie C. 
Hartman, formerly of the Connecticut State Library; Edward 
C. Booth, of Lennox Industries, Inc., Marshalltown, Iowa. 

Espionage in Westchester, Long Island, and adjoining terri- 
tory: Mrs. Amy O. Bassford, Eastchester Public Library; Miss 
Edna Huntington, Long Island Historical Society; Miss Char- 
lotte M. Wiggin, Litchfield Historical Society; Mrs. Amos 
Struble, Corresponding Secretary of the Westchester County 


(N.Y.) Historical Society; W. T. Horton and Carlton B. Sco- 
field, both at various times city historians of Peekskill, N.Y., 
and Mrs, Kathleen M. Moynahan, assistant; Kenneth A. Lohf, 
of the Columbia University Libraries; Louis H. Bolander, 
former Librarian, U.S. Naval Academy; Miss Juliet Wolohan, 
Assistant Librarian, Manuscript and History Section, New 
York State Library; Kenneth E. Hasbrouck, New Paltz, N.Y.; 
Mrs. Addison Reed Hopkins, Brewster, N.Y.; Harry Hansen, 
editor of The World Almanac; Miss Jean L. Ross, Reference 
Librarian, New Rochelle Public Library; Robertson T. Bar- 
rett, Town Historian of Bedford; Cornel Lengyel, of George- 
town, Calif,; William A. Oldridge, of Brooklyn, who searched 
his manuscript collection for spy materials; John Howland 
Gibbs Pell and Miss Eleanor Murray, of the Fort Ticonderoga 

Forged documents: Professor Kenneth Coleman, University 
of Georgia; Professor John R. Alden, Duke University. 

David Gray: Crawford E. L. Donohugh, Rare Books Librar- 
ian, New York State Library; George N. Harman, Rutland 
County (Vt.) County Clerk; Miss Clara E. Follette, Librarian 
and Museum Director, Vermont Historical Society; Mrs. Con- 
stance T. Rinden, Assistant Reference Librarian, New Hamp- 
shire State Library. 

John Hall: Frank E. McKone, Dover, N.H. 

John Honey man: Mrs. Maude Greene, former Librarian 
of the New Jersey Historical Society; Mrs. M. K. Cones, Ref- 
erence Librarian, Free Public Library, Jersey City, N.J.; and 
Leonard Falkner, of the New York World-Telegram. 

John Howe: Miss Ellen P. Webster, Halifax Memorial Li- 
brary, Halifax, Canada, and D. C. Harvey, Archivist of Nova 

Captain Andrew Lee: Miss Elizabeth Kieffer, Librarian of 
the Lancaster County (Pa.) Historical Society; Richmond D. 
Williams, Director, and Miss Ernestine M. Kaehlin, Librarian, 
of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, Wilkes 
Barre, Pa. 

Christopher Ludwick: Miss Gertrude D. Hess, Assistant Li- 
brarian, American Philosophical Society; Mrs. Margaret D. 

Acknowledgments 371 

Roshong, Secretary of the Valley Forge Park Commission; 
John M. Fogg and Edward D. Taulane, Jr., of the Ludwick 
Institute, Philadelphia; William Wood Condit, Falls Village, 
Pa.; Mrs. Venia T. Phillips, Academy of Natural Science, Phil- 
adelphia; Frederick B. Tolles, Director, Friends Historical Li- 
brary, Swarthmore, Pa.; Professor Matthew W. Black, 
University of Pennsylvania; Miss Katharine Shorey, Librarian, 
Martin Memorial Library, York, Pa.; George E. Nitzsche, and 
Horace Mather Lippincott, Philadelphia. 

Medical men as Revolutionary spies: Sir Arthur McNalty, 

James and John Moody: John D. F. Morgan, Executive Di- 
rector, Camden County (N.J.) Historical Society; Miss Dorothy 
Hammond, Librarian, State Teachers College, Glassboro, N.J.; 
Charles S. Grossman, Acting Superintendent, Independence 
National Historical Park, Philadelphia. 

Charles Morgan: William S. Dix, Princeton University Li- 
brary; Harry F. Green, Historical Society of Gloucester City, 
N.J.; Samuel Smith, Librarian, Monmouth County Historical 
Association; Donald A. Sinclair, Curator of Special Collec- 
tions, Rutgers University; Charles E. Hatch, Chief, Research 
and Interpretation Division, Colonial National Historical 
Park, Yorktown, Va. 

New Jersey military records: Lieutenant Colonel Samuel F. 
Brink, AF, Adjutant General, Lieutenant Colonel F. Paul, 
AGC, and Captain J. F. Callahan, Arty, all of the New Jersey 
National Guard. 

Valley Forge,, Philadelphia, and adjacent New Jersey: Alfred 
Hoyt Bill, Princeton, N.J., Mrs. Howard M. Stuckert, Library 
Director, Free Public Library, Haddonfield, N.J.; Henry J. 
Young, Senior Archivist, Pennsylvania State Museum; John 
M. Nugent, Philadelphia Suburban Newspapers, Inc.; Edward 
W. Hocker, Germantown Historical Society; Miss Anna L. 
Cladek, Perth Amboy Public Library; John D. Kilbourne, 
Director, Historical Society of York County; Henry C. Shinn, 
Mount Holly, N.J.; Loring McMillen, Vice President of the 
Staten Island Historical Society; Miss Mary J. Messier, head 
of the Reference Department, Free Public Library, Trenton. 

* * * 


Reference numbers are to page and paragraph, an incomplete 
paragraph at the top of a page being reckoned as the first 
paragraph. Thus "25.1" indicates the first paragraph (or partial 
paragraph) on page 25. In the same way, "25.2" indicates the 
second paragraph, "25.3-4" the third and fourth. Where source 
references support the statements on several pages, they are 
indicated by pages only, thus: 244-49. 

The following abbreviations are used: 

AGO: Adjutant General's Office 

Accounts: "George Washington's Accounts of Expenses" (ed. 
by John C. Fitzpatrick). MSS. in WP/LC. 

Am. Arch.: American Archives, ed. Peter Force 

Gal. NY Hist. MSS.: Calendar of New York Historical Manu- 

CP: Clinton Papers, Clements Library, University of Michigan 

DAB: Dictionary of American Biography 

DAH: Dictionary of American History 

Egerton: H. E. Egerton (ed.), Notes of Royal Commission on 
Losses and Services of American Loyalists, by D. P. Coke 

Facsim: B. F. Stevens's Facsimiles of Manuscripts 



Freeman: Douglas Southall Freeman, George Washington: A 


French: Allen French, General Gage's Informers 
GP: Gage Papers, Clements Library, University of Michigan 
GW: George Washington. Also J. C. Fitzpatrick (ed.): Writings 

of George Washington 
HCL: Harvard College Library 
HS: Historical Society 

Journals Com. Cong.: Journals of the Continental Congress 
LC: Library of Congress 
LWS: L. W. Smith Collection (MSS.), National Historical 

Park, Morristown, N. J. 
MAH: Magazine of American History 
Nat. Arch.: National Archives, Washington, D.C. 
NJNG: New Jersey National Guard 
NY: New York 

NYPL: New York Public Library 
NYHS: New-York Historical Society 
Pa. Arch.: Pennsylvania Archives 

Pa. Mag.: Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 
PRO: Public Records Office, London 
Qy.: Quarterly 

Transcripts: Audit Office Transcripts, MS. Room, NYPL 
Van Doren: Carl Van Doren, Secret History of the American 

WP/LC: Washington Papers, Library of Congress 

10.3. William Farrand Livingstone: Israel Putnam (1901), pp. 258-59. There 
is a good account of the Church episode in Freeman: III, 474-75, 487-88, 547-54. 

11.1. 4 GW 10. On Washington's payments to Church, see Warrant Book 
I, Aug. 26, Sept. 26, 1775, WP/LC. 

12.1. The few books that mention Wenwood, spell his name Wainwood. The 
spelling here used is from his own advertisements in the Newport Mercury. 
Henry Ward's letter to Greene, Sept. 26, 1775 (WP/LC), says the girl ap- 
proached Wenwood in July, 1775. Church wrote on Oct. 3, 1775, that Wenwood 
had had his letter two months. See also the Church ALS (so called but prob- 
ably copies) in Sparks MSS., HCL. On butter biscuits, see George Richardson's 
Scrapbook, No. 971, p. 81, in Newport HS. The article, signed only "J. C. $.," 
is believed to be by James C, Swan. 

12.3. GP, Aug. 25, 1775; Egerton, pp. 262-66; French, pp. 188-89; 4 GW 10. 
See also Church to GW, undated, and Ward to Greene, Sept. 26, 1775, WP/LC; 

Notes 375 

S. S. Purple: "Treason of Benjamin Church" (MS), unpublished collection of 
materials, including verse from Rivington's New York Gazette, Oct. 19, 1775, 
MS. Room, NYPL; Church's examination before House, in Colls. Mass. HS, 
pp. 84-94 (1792, published 1806); J. S. Loring: Hundred Boston Orators (1852), 
pp. 37-44. 

13.4. Ward to Greene, Sept. 26, 1775, WP/LC. 

14.2. Ibid.; Reed to Church (unsigned draft), Sept. 24, 1775, WP/LC. 

14.4. The letter is in WP/LC. 

15.2-4. 4 GW 9-13; Am. Arch., 4th ser., 3:809; Freeman, III, 546; Ward to 
Greene, Sept. 26, 1775, WP/LC; Warren-Adams Letters, I, 121-22. 

16.2. On resignation, see Reed to Church (unsigned draft), Sept. 24, 1775, 
WP/LC. On Church, see Gilbert Saltonstall to Nathan Hale, Oct. 9, 1775 

(original in Conn. HS; Henry Phelps Johnston: Nathan Hale, p. 52. Cf. 4 GW 

17.5. Gerry to Reed, Oct. 5, 1775, WP/LC. 

19.1. The second letter is in Mass. Archives, 138, 327; 4 GW 9-13. See also 
Paul Revere's letters in Colls. Mass. HS I, 1, iii (Jan. 1, 1798), also Sparks MSS., 
Norton autographs, HCL, and other documents in Sparks MSS., Church, HCL. 

20.1. 4 GW 11-17; Journals Cont. Cong., IV, 401, 442, 616; V, 693; IX, 784-85; 
Council of War, Oct. 3/4, 1775, and Church to GW, Oct. {?], 1775, WP/LC; 
Minutes NY representatives, April 1, 1777, copy in LWS-762-1. 

20.7. Journals Cont. Cong., Ill, 334. On confinement by Trumbull, see John- 
ston, op. cit., p. 153. Original in Conn. HS. 

22.1-3. Warren -Adams Letters, I, 254-55. On the cartel vessel, see Independent 
Chronicle, July 17, 1777. On Mrs. Church's troubles, PRO, A.O. 13: 73, quoted 
by French, pp. 199-200. 

23.1. Thomas Brown to William Perry, Halifax, May 16, 1782, in PRO, A.O. 
13:73, quoted by French, pp. 200-01. The will is in Suffolk County Probate 
Records, 1757: LXXX, 570-73, and is partly quoted by French, p. 20I-n. See 
also Church (Sr.) to Hancock, June 16, 1779, LWS-1343-1. 

25.3. Revere's own story is accessible in various texts. It is here quoted 
from French, p. 164. 

27.1. Church's letters are in CP, where they may be traced by date. On very 
early British intelligence, see Facsim, XXIV, 2024, "Account of Money Issued 
for His Majesty's Secret and Special Service." 

28.3. On John Hall, see GP, 1775, passim. 

29.2. GP, March 16, 1775. The story of the unknown Concord agent is well 
told in French, passim. It has been verified from the original reports in CP, 
arranged by date. On other British agents, see Egerton, pp. 169-70; Winslow 
Papers, p. 364. 

32.1-2. Ditson to Gage, March 9, 1775, GP. See also letter of March 21, April 
23, May 12, 1775; Lorenzo Sabine: Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the 
American Revolution (1864), II, 30; Egerton, p. 65; Marquis de Chastellux: 
Travels in North America (1787), pp. 218-19. Also letters of "Mr. Hoare," other- 
wise unknown, GP, Aug. and Sept., 1775, and an unsigned letter of Feb. 25, 
1775, GP. 

33.3. Thompson's reports are in GP, under dates. See also French, pp. 126-45; 
N. H. Adj. Gen. Report (1866), p. 262-n; Ellis: Memoir, p. 83; Richard Froth- 
ingham: History of the Siege of Boston (1873), p. 185; James Ren wick: Life of 
Benjamin Thompson (in Jared Sparks, ed.: Library of American Biography, 


2nd ser., V, 39-40). A last-minute report of the Concord spy, dated April 18, 
1775, probably reached Gage too late to be of any use. 

38.3. De Berniere's Narrative is in Bostonian Society Publications, 9: 72-98 
(1912) and in Colls. Mass. HS, 2nd ser., 4. It is confirmed by the fact that 
the people he names in various towns can be identified by local documents 
and histories. This officer is not to be confused with John De Berniere, in CP. 
Captain Brown's full name does not appear in the narrative but is in the 
British Army list, 1774. Gage's request for a topographical officer is in Allen 
French (ed.): A British Fusilier, p. 27. See also GP, March 8, 1775. 

42.2. The editor of De Berniere in Bostonian Soc. Publs., 9:77 (1912) gives 
this man's name as "Isaac" Jones, evidently because the first Isaac Jones de- 
scribed him as a "namesake." He was evidently William Jones, whose inn 
stood near what is now the junction of Main and Southbridge streets, Worces- 
ter. See C. A. Wall: Reminiscences of Worcester,, p. 36. 

43.3. Justin Winsor (ed.): Narrative and Critical History of America , III, ii. 
48.9-49.1. On Dr. Curtis, see Bostonian Soc. Publs., 9:85 (1912). 

52-53. George Tolman: John Jack the slave and Daniel Bliss, the Tory (copy 
in Concord Free Public Library); Lemuel Shattuck: History of Concord, p. 96; 
Allen French: Day of Concord and Lexington, p. 160-n; Colls. Worcester HS, 
XIII, 25 Iff.; obituary, Columbian Centinel (Boston), Mar. 8, 1806. 

55.1. See Journal kept by Mr. John Howe while he was employed as a 
British Spy, Concord, N.H.: Luther Roby, Printer, 1927. Copies of this survive 
in the N.H. HS, NYPL, and American Antiquarian Society, Worcester. It is 
reproduced in Mass. HS Photostat Series, No. 82. Quotations here are from 
the reprint in MAH, Extra No. 132, vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 165-90 (1927). Like De 
Berniere, Howe is confirmed by the accuracy with which he reports local in- 
dividuals and taverns, as confirmed by local histories and early tax lists. The 
snowstorm he reports is also reported in diaries or annotated almanacs by the 
Rev. Breck Parkman, Ebenezer Parkman, the Rev. Samuel West, and the Rev. 
Jeremy Belknap. Original documents by the first two are in the American 
Antiquarian Society, the last two in Mass. HS. 

56.3. "Worcester" in the text is plainly a misprint for "Watertown," as it is 
described as being six miles from Boston. 

58-59. Smith, Jones, and Wheaton, mentioned by Howe, all appear in Wal- 
tharn tax lists and vital statistics of the period. 

68.1. Revered espionage system is described in his own story but is con- 
firmed by other documents, especially the Gage Papers. (Where dates for docu- 
ments in the Gage Papers are given in the text, they are not repeated in the 
notes, a rule usually followed with the Clinton Papers.) 

70.3. Revere to John Lamb, Sept. 4, 1774; Esther Forbes: Paul Revere and 
the Times He Lived In, p. 225. 

70.4. On the Portsmouth raid, see Charles L, Parsons: "Capture of Fort Wii- 
lam and Mary," Proc. N.H. HS., 4:14-47 (1906), which has a good Bibliography; 
Letters and Papers of Major General John Sullivan (ed. Otis G. Hammond), 
III, 420; N.H. State Papers, VII, 420-21; Elwin H. Page: "King's Powder, 1774," 
New England Qy., 18:83-92 (1845); John Alden: General Gage in America, p. 
224; C. P. Whittemore: "New Hampshire's John Sullivan" (MS., Columbia Dis- 
sertation, 1957), pp. 40-48. 

71.2. Thomas Newell's Diary, Sept. 15-20, 1774, printed in Frothmgham, 
op. cit.j cf. pp. 15, 364; GP, May 12, 1775; Fairfax Downey: Sound of the Guns, 

Notes 377 

pp. 23-24; "A Bostonian" (B. B. Thatcher, supposed author): Traits of the 
Tea-Party (1835), pp. 257-58. 

75.5. Justin Winsor (ed.): The Memorial History of Boston, III, 68-n. 

77.1-2. On Dawes, see DAB, V, 150. On the lanterns: John Lee Watson: 
"Paul Revere's Signal," Mass. HS Proc., 17:164-177 (1876); Boston Daily Ad- 
vertiser, July 20, 1876; Forbes, op. cit. f pp. 254-56; C. F. Gettemy: True Story 
of Paul Revere, pp. 93-97. 

79.3. Devens's own statement is in Frothingham, op. cit., p. 57; J. T. Austin: 
Life of Elbridge Gerry, I, 68. 

81-84. GP especially May 25, June 2, 5, 22, July 16, Sept. 10, 1775; Proceedings 
of the Committee of Safety, April 24, 26, 30, May 3, 14, 23, 24, 1775; Allen 
French: First Year of the American Revolution, pp. 190-92. 

85.2. GP, July 26, 1775. 

85.3. Ibid., passim. 

86.1-2. On Galloway, see Egerton, pp. 88-99. On Kearsley and Brooks, Secret 
Service Accounts, CP; Diary of Jacob Hiltzheimer (ed. Jacob C. Parsons, 1893), 
pp. 17, 19, 20, 32; Egerton, pp. 106-09, 143, 355-56; Alexander Graydon: Mem- 
oirs (1811), pp. 111-12; Book of the First City Troop, Philadelphia City Cav- 
alry (1915), p. 6; Minutes Philadelphia Committee of Safety, Oct. 24, 1775; 
Caesar to Thomas Rodney, Oct. 9, 1775, in Extracts from the Letters of Caesar 
Rodney (ed. George Herbert Rydan, 1933), p. 65; Diary of Christopher Marshall 
(1847), pp. 8, 149. 

87.1-3. The forged documents are in GP. The stolen originals were for a 
long time in possession of John Drayton, of Georgia. See Drayton: Memoirs 
of the American Revolution . . . as relating to South Carolina, I, 347-48, 357; 
R. W. Gibbes: Documentary History of the American Revolution, I, 100; C. C. 
Jones: History of Georgia, II, 180; Am. Arch., 4th ser., 1:1109-11; Coll Ga. HS, 

III, 229-30 (1873); Kenneth Coleman: American Revolution in Georgia, p. 51. 
88.1. Reed to Baldwin, July 28, 1775, WP/LC; Baldwin to GW, Aug. 15, 

16, 1775, WP/LC; Winthrop Sargent: Life ... o/ ... Andre; p. 440; John 
Leach's Journal, Timothy Newell's Journal, July 20, 1775, New England His- 
torical and Genealogical Register, 19:255-63; Colls. Mass. HS, 4th ser., 1:261-76 
(1852); H. Commeger and R. Morris: Spirit of 1776, I, 147, 847. 

88.3. Diary of Anna Green Winslow (ed. Alice Morse Earle, 1894), p. 110; 
Peter Edes Journal, Mass. HS Colls., 4th ser., 1:264 (1852), also Leach and 
Newell, as above; Loring, op. cit., pp. 29-37; DAB, XI, 438; Publs. Colonial Soc. 
Mass., 17:149 (1929-1930); H. C. Burnett (ed.): Letters of Members of the 
Continental Congress, passim; 4 GW 174, 287, 295, 312; 5 GW 323-n, 324, 336- 
37, 365, 384; Historical Manuscripts Commission, Stopford-Sackville MSS., p. 
42; Egerton, p. 143; Arthur Lee Papers (MS.), (HCL), Vol. II, Nos. 68, 69; Vol. 

IV, No. 7 (MS. Am. 811 FX). 

89.1-2. Traits of the Tea-Party, pp. 213, 217-18; interrogation of an unknown 
man, GP, May- June, 1775; James Hawkes (supposed author): Retrospect of 
the Boston Tea-Party (1834), pp. 59-61; Daniel T. V. Huntoon: "An Old 
Bostonian, Robert Twelves Hewes," Weekly Transcript, Jan. 26, 1886 (Boston 
Public Library). 

89.3. Accounts, pp. 6-7. 

90-92. Henri Doniol: Histoire de la participation de la France a I'etablisse- 
ment des Etats-Unis d'Amfrique, I, 128, 138-39, 265-66, 287; Facsim., XIII, 1301; 
G. O. Trevelyan: George the Third and Charles Fox, pp. 38-39; Charles H. 


Sherrill: French Memories of Eighteenth Century America, p. 19; Cornells de 
Witt: Thomas Jefferson., Appendix. 

95.3. On Dawkin, see DAB and Bibliography there given. One of his ad- 
vertisements appears in Pennsylvania Journal, July 19, 1758. Two of his scien- 
tific plates are in Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 1771. 

96-99. CaL NY Hist. MSS., I, 296, 308, 345-46, 491; Egerton, p. 168; Am. Arch., 
4th ser., 6:1054, 1159; 5 GW 194; Worthington C. Ford: Correspondence and 
Journals of Samuel Blatchley Webb, I, 148; Solomon Drowne to his sister, 
June 24, 1776, quoted in Freeman, IV, 121. The Drowne letter, formerly in 
the Tqmlinson Collection, belonging to the Mercantile Library and in custody 
of NYPL, has been sold to an unknown purchaser. 

100.2. CaL NY Hist, MSS., I, 357. On the conspiracy in general, see William 
Gordon: History of the Rise, progress and Establishment of the Independence 
of the United States (1788), II, 276-77; John Marshall: Life of George Washing- 
ton (1850), II, 392; Washington Irving: Washington, II, 242-46; Proceedings of 
the Committee for the Hearing, etc., June 22-26, 1776; Diary of Ezra Stiles, 
June 28, 1776; P. T. Curtenius to Richard Varick, June 22, 1776; Joseph to 
Sarah Hodgkin, July 17, 1776, all in H. Wade and R. Livingston: This Glori- 
ous Cause, pp. 29, 210; Henry Russell Drowne: Sketch of Fraunces Tavern, pp. 
12-13; Minutes of a Conspiracy Against the Liberties of America, (Philadelphia: 
John Campbell, 1865); Benson J. Lossing: "Washington's Life Guard," Histori- 
cal Magazine, 2:129-34 (1858). 

101.4-5. CaL NY Hist, MSS., I, 325, 373, 375. 

102.1-3. Ketcham swore at Mickey's court-martial that the defendant had been 
committed to jail "last Saturday week/' or June 15, 1776. Caleb Clapp's Diary, 
Hist. Mag., 3rd ser., 3:135 (1874), says Hickey was jailed June 21; but Ketcham 
was himself already in jail when Hickey arrived. See Journal of the Provincial 
Congress, I, 495. See also CaL NY Hist. MSS., 258, 343; Am. Arch., 4th ser., 

103.1. CaL NY Hist. MSS., I, 295, 342-44, 373, 425; Benson J. Lossing: Wash- 
ington (1860), II, 175; Frank Moore (ed.): Diary of the American Revolution 
(1860), I, 254-56 (June 26, 1776). The arrests are in the service records given 
in Carlos E. Godfrey: Commander-in-Chiefs Guard. Godfrey's statements must 
be treated with caution, as he depends on Minutes of a Conspiracy Against 
the Liberties of America which is based on Minutes of the Trial and Examina- 
tion of Certain Persons in the Province of New York (London: J. Bewick), 
part of which is certainly fraudulent. See John C. Fitzpatrick: "George Wash- 
ington Scandals," Scribner's, 81:389-95 (1927). 

103.2. Lossing in his Washington (I, 176) states that he had the facts from 
one W. J. Davis, who had them from Peter Embury, of New York, who knew 
Phoebe Fraunces. The story is repeated in Drowne, op. cit. f pp. 12, 17. Free- 
man, IV, 121 -n, believes the whole story a fabrication. The story was certainly 
widely accepted at the time. The alleged warning by a waiter named William 
Collier, or Corbie, rests on the doubtful evidence of Minutes of a Conspiracy. 

103.3. 5 GW 193. 

105.2. Am. Arch., 4th ser., 6:1085. 

106.3. CaL NY Hist. MSS., I, 375. 
106.5. Am. Arch. f 4th ser,, 6:1085-86. 

107.2. Ibid., 4th ser., 6:1084-86, 1109, 1119, 1148. MS. Orderly Book of Colonel 
Charles Webb, June 27, 1776, Conn. State Library; Diary of Ensign Caleb 



Clapp, June 27, 1776, Hist. Mag,, 3rd ser., 3:136 (1874); New England Hist, fr 
Geneal Register, 23:206 (1869). 

108.1-3. Eustis to Townsend, New England Hist. Geneal. Register 23:208 
(1869). See also Caleb Clapp's Diary, loc. cit. 

108.2-3. Godfrey, op. cit., p. 29ff.; Moore, op. cit., I, 257, quoting a letter 
from a certain S. Gwyn to "Colonel Crafts" presumably the Massachusetts 
artilleryman. Pension statement of Anthony Cherdovoyne, Nat. Arch. R.I 908. 

108.5. Am. Arch., 4th ser., 6:1148. 

111.2-3. Livingston to GW, Aug. 21, 1776, WP/LC; Thomas Jones: History 
of New York During the Revolutionary War, I, 602; Sidney George Fisher: 
True History of the American Revolution, pp. 301, 311; George Bancroft: His- 
tory of the United States (1886), V, 28; Robert Beatson: Naval and Military 
Mem. of Great Britain, VI, 44, 53; Maria Campbell: Revolutionary Services and 
Civil Life of General William Hull, p. 45. On Mascoll's mission, see Accounts, 
p. 43. 

112.1-3. 6 GW 1-2, 18-19, 33; Cal. NY Hist. MSS., p. 268; the original report 
is in Papers of the Continental Congress, LC. On Colonel Nicoll, see James A. 
Roberts: New York in the Revolution, I, 271; II, 244, 255; DAR Lineage Book, 
CXL, 24. See also Public Papers of George Clinton, I, 346-47, Journal of the 
New York Provincial Congress, Sept. 13, 1776. 

112.4. George Dudley Seymour: Captain Nathan Hale and Major John Pals- 
grave Wyllys f p. 25. 

113.3-4. William Henry Shelton: "What Was the Mission of Nathan Hale?'' 
Journ. Am. Hist.., 9:269-89 (1915); Victor H. Paltsits: "Use of Invisible Ink 
During the American Revolution/* Bulletin, NYPL, 35:361-64 (1935); Bezaleel 
Kerr to Aeneas Urquhart, May 22, 1779, WP/LC and documents immediately 
following; Journals Cont. Cong., Ill, 392; Colls. NYHS, (1886), pp. 178E; Wil- 
liam Jay: Life of John Jay (1833), I, 64-66. 

114.2. Maria Campbell, op. cit., pp. 34-35. This was not published till 1847. 
General Hull had, however, told part of the Hale story to Hannah Adams, 
who used it in her Summary History of New England (1799). Sergeant Hemp- 
stead first published his account of Hale in the Republican (St. Louis, Mo.), 
Jan. 18, 1827 (files in Missouri HS and in State HS of Missouri). It was re- 
printed in the Hartford Courant, April 2, 1827, in the Long Island Star, April 
5, 1827, and in George Dudley Seymour: Documentary Life of Nathan Hale, 
pp. 311-14. On Hannah Adams, see Johnston, op. cit. f p. 100-n. 

115.2. "Testimony of Asher Wright," Stuart Papers, Conn. HS. This was 
taken by R. N. Wright, of Hanover, N.H., when Asher Wright was eighty-two. 
It was probably written, or rewritten, by Cyrus P. Bradley, who collected much 
Hale material for a never written biography. See Seymour, Documentary Life 
of Nathan Hale, pp. 315-18. Wright's military papers are in the Nat. Arch., 
S-36854, but they are of little value. See also Maria Campbell, op. cit., p. 23. 

115.4. Nathan to Enoch Hale, June 3, 1776; Seymour, Documentary Life of 
Nathan Male, p. 312-n; Republican (St. Louis, Mo.), Jan. 18, 1827. 

116.2- Johnston: op. cit.,, p. 80; Benson J. Lossing: The Pictorial Field-Book 
of the Revolution, II, 609; Benson J. Lossing: Two Spies, pp. 16-17. See also 
a book by Morton J. Pennypacker, with the same title, p. 10. 

118.3. Despatches of Molyneux Shuldham, July 6, 1776 (ed. Robert Wilden 

118.5. Johnston, op. cit., pp. 111-12. This document was discovered, probably 
in the 1890's, by William Kelby, Librarian of the New-York Historical Society. 


It has been described as "Howe's" orderly book. It is certainly an orderly 
book originating in Howe's army. There is another MS. copy in the Clements 
Library. For various accounts of the capture, see Johnston, op. cit., pp. 115, 

119.3. Frederick Mackenzie's Diary, I, 61-62. Bellamy Partridge: Sir Billy 
Howe, p. 92. On Samuel Hale's denial that he betrayed his cousin, see Sey- 
mour, Documentary Life of Nathan Hale, pp. 303-06, reprinting Essex Journal, 
Feb. 13, 1776, and Captain Nathan Hale and Major John Palsgrave Wyllys, pp. 
7, 22, 28, 32. There are casual references to Hale's death in the papers of 
David Canada (Nat. Arch., W. 25388; BL Wt.-263 13-1 60-55) and John Mol- 
throp (S-36081) both privates in Hale's company, and in Diary of Samuel 
Richards (Philadelphia: 1909), p. 71. 

121.1. Joseph Addison: Cato, Act. IV, Scene 2. 

121.4. On the "painted soldier," see Kentish Gazette, Nov. 9, 1776. (Files 
in Royal Museum and Public Library, Canterbury, Kent, and NYPL.) The 
passage is quoted in Shelton: "What Was the Mission of Nathan Hale?" loc. 

122.1-2. Enoch Hale's Diary (MS.), quoted in Seymour, Documentary Life of 
Nathan Hale, pp. 56-57; Maria Campbell, op. cit., p. 38. 

123.1. Cal. NY Hist. MSS., I, 669-71. The British were still trying to re- 
cruit troops around Albany as late as Mar., 1778. See Minutes Albany Com- 
mittee of Correspondence (ed. James Sullivan), I, 954. 

123.2. 6 GW 280; 7 GW 24; 8 GW 50. 

124.2. Cal NY Hist. MSS., I, 669-73; Egerton, p. 190. 

124.3. Cal. NY Hist. MSS., I, 669-71, 674-75; Hoffman Nickerson: Turning 
Point of the Revolution, pp. 89-103. 

125.3. 4 GW 487-88; 8 GW 131. 

125.4. CaL NY Hist. MSS., I, 338; Journal of the Provincial Congress, May 
22, 24, 1776, I, 476-78; Diary of Ensign Caleb Clapp, loc. cit., 3:249; Victor H. 
Paltsits, Minutes of the Commissioners for Conspiracies, I, 413. 

126.1. Cal. NY Hist. MSS., II, 64. 

126.2. Ibid., II, 198-99. 

126.4. Ibid., II, 135. 

127.1. Heath Papers, Mass. HS, 116-17, copy in WP/LC; 6 GW 497-98; Otto 
Hufeland: Westchester County During the American Revolution, III, 214-15. 

127.2-3. Cal. NY Hist. MSS., II, 83, 86, 587; Transcripts, XXII, 535, 537, 

127.5. Cal. NY Hist. MSS., II, 128-38; Mass. HS Proc., 2nd ser., 12:13942 

128.2. Paltsits, Minutes, I, 157-58; II, 658-59, 698, 701, 711, 724. 

128.3. Cal. NY Hist. MSS., II, 198-211. Davis may be identical with the man 
referred to in Mass. HS Proc., 2nd ser., 12:142 (1898). 

128.4-5. Cal. NY Hist. MSS., II, 165-66, 179-80; DAB, XX, 422-23. 

129.3. CaL NY Hist, MSS. f II, 165E 

132.3. Robert Bolton: History of Westchester, II, 672-73; Hufeland, op. cit., 
Ill, 214-15; Heath to GW, Jan. 9, 1777, GW to Heath, Jan. 12, 1777, WP/LC; 
court-martial record of Daniel Strang, Jan. 4, 1777, Heath Papers, Mass, HS; 
Josephus C. Frost: Strang Genealogy (1915). 

134.3. Cal. NY Hist. MSS., II, 179-82. Accompanying documents show court- 
martial was in session in early June, 1776. 

137.3-4. James Montgomery Bailey: History of Dan bury, Chapters X and XX. 

Notes 381 

Only the pension statement gives Bunker's name. "Esquire" Young was prob- 
ably Samuel Young. 

138ff. The main sources for Enoch Crosby's story are: H. L. Barnum: The 
Spy Unmasked (1829); Crosby's pension statement and supporting affidavits 
(Nat. Arch., S/ 10/505); and Minutes of the Committee and First Commission 
for Detecting Conspiracies (Colls. NYHS, LVII-LVIII, 1924-1925). On Crosby's 
later life, see Charles H. Haswell: Reminiscences of an Octogenarian, pp. 129, 
249. Bamum's book was reprinted by the Fishkill Weekly Times in 1886. On 
Crosby as an Associator, see Gal. NY Hist. MSS., I, 76. 

142.3-4. Jay to Sackett, Dec. 30, 1776. Original at Washington's Head- 
quarters and Museum, Newburgh, N.Y. In the same collection, see also the 
order of Jan. 3, 1777, signed by John Jay, empowering Sackett to use the 
militia. Robert Harpur's letter of Oct. 7, 1777, also seems to refer to Sackett's 
counter-intelligence agents. On the spies' reports, see Colls. NYHS, LVII, 93, 
94 (1924). 

142.5. Original Sackett letter in Colls. NYHS, LVIII, 420 (1925). 

143.6, Ibid. f LVIII, 32 (1925), records Morehouse's commission. 

144.3. Louis S. Patrick: "Secret Service of the American Revolution/' Conn. 
Mag., 11:269 (1907). The officer was Colonel Henry Ludington, NY Militia. 
On Crosby's later services, see Archives of the State of New York. The Revo- 
lution, I, 214, Col. 1, and Assembly Papers, 24-350; Military Register, N.Y. 
State Library, Albany (MS.). 

145ff. Main sources for the Palmer story are: Putnam's letter of Aug. 4, 1777, 
CP; Transcripts XVII, 145-51, XXIX, 19; Frost, op. cit., pp. 38-39; Sergeant 
Daniel Ware's Orderly Book (Conn. HS), reprinted in W. C. Ford: Putnam's 
General Orders, p. 31; W. F. Livingston: op. cit., pp. 350-51; David Humphreys: 
Life of Putnam (1818), p. 147; Oliver W. B. Peabody: Life of Putnam (ed. 
Jared Sparks), pp. 200-01; Benson J. Lossing: "Romance of the Hudson," 
Harper's, 311:647 (1876); Increase N. Tarbox: Life of Israel Putnam, pp. 313-14; 
Hufeland, op. cit., Ill, 215-19; Cal. NY Hist. MSS., I, 188; II, 88, 258-60; Diary 
of Sergeant Major Simon Giffin (Photostat, Yale), Aug. 8, 1777. 

148.1. Jedidiah to Joseph Huntington, July 24, 1777, Colls. Conn. HS, XX, 
355; Stirling to GW, July 24, 1777, WP/LC; Putnam to GW, July 26, 1777, 

148.2. Fellows to GW, July 24, 1777, WP/LC. 

148.3. Colls. NYHS, LVIII, 342-48, 354, 363, 443 (1925); Burgoyne to Clinton, 
July 9/21, 1777, Sept., 1777, CP; interrogation of Joseph Bettys, Oct., 1777, CP. 

151.3. The text of Clinton's note follows that of the retained copy in CP. 
The text actually sent may have some minor verbal changes, but is now nearly 

152ff. The warning with the description of Taylor is in Putnam to GW, 
July 24, 26, 1777 WP/LC; Fish to Putnam, July 24, 1777; 8 GW 468. The 
best account oE the incident is in the Public Papers of George Clinton, II, 
398-401, 403-29, 443. See also Lossing: Pictorial Field-Book, 389, 684; William 
B. Willcox: American Rebellion, p. 77-n; Willard M. Wallace: Appeal to 
Arms, p. 164. Publication No. 34 of the HS of Newburgh Bay and the High- 
lands contains a sketch of Dr. Bigby and there is a description of his house 
in Mildred Seese: Old Orange Houses, II, 14. The original letter, in rather 
bad condition, and the silver bullet are at Fort Ticonderoga. There are two 
other copies in CP. See also John M. Eager: "Daniel Taylor, the Spy," Hist. 
Mag., 1st ser., 8:149-50 (1864); Edward J. Lowell: Hessians and Other German 


Auxiliaries, pp. 154-55; Pa. Arch., 1st ser., V, 639-40; Diary of Sergeant Major 
Simon Giffin (Photostat, Yale), Oct. 18, 1777. 

154.2. Transcripts, XXXVIII, 49-51, 71; Egerton, pp. 113-14. 

155.1-3. Transcripts, XXXVIII, 71; Egerton, pp. xliv, 113-14, 155-65, 173-n, 
211-12; Winslow Papers* p. 321. On Skinner's general services, see Transcripts, 
XXXVIII, 49-51. 

155.4. Ibid., 58, 69; Egerton, pp. 114-15; 7 GW 117. 

156.1-4. Egerton, pp. li, 4, 5, 33-34, 113, 156; William A. Whitehead: Con- 
tributions to the Early History of Perth Amboy, pp. 103-06; William S. Stryker: 
New Jersey Volunteers; Am. Arch., 4th ser., 4:476. 

157.2. Intelligence Papers, July 27, 1777, CP; 8 GW 503. 
157.3-4. 17 GW 368-70; Stryker, op. cit., passim. 

158ff. On Moody, see Egerton, xlvi, xlviii, 132, 134, 144; Sabine, op. cit., II, 
90ff.; Edwin Salter and George C. Beekman: Old Times in Old Monmouth, 
pp. 51, 58-60; Memorandum Book of Intelligence, CP, passim; Stryker, op. cit., 
pp. 15, 17, 22; Moore, op. cit., II, 307, 466; Transcripts, XXXVIII, 119-30; 
Moody 's own story as told in his Narrative of the Exertions and Sufferings of 
Lieutenant James Moody (London, 1782, 1783), reprinted by Charles I. Bush- 
nell, 1865, and in his Crumbs for Antiquarians, pp. 9-98; and by R. M. Dorson 
(ed.): American Rebels, pp. 134-46. 

158.3. American Revolution Papers, Intelligence, LC. Anderson may be 
identical with Thomas Anderson, Tory blacksmith, of the Manor of Living- 
ston, whom the Commissioners for Conspiracies did not release on recognizances 
until June 30, 1778. See Paltsits: Minutes, I, 142-43, 146, 152, 161. 

158-59. Ambrose Serle to Earl of Dartmouth, April 25, 1777, Dartmouth 
MSS., in Facsim. XXIV, 2057. 

159-60. Ibid., 2055, 2057, 2059-85, 2087-98, 2100; McLane MSS. (NYHS) Vol. 
II, No. 40; Despatches of Molyneux Shuldham, pp. 237-38. The Parker map 
is in CP. 

On Shanks, see Washington's Warrant Book, II, folio 101-v, LC; GW to 
Board of General Officers, Lee to GW, Shanks court-martial record, all June 2, 
1778, WP/LC; Diary of Elijah Fisher, printed in Godfrey, op. cit., and in 
Hist. Mag., Extra No. 6 (1909); Pa. Arch., 5th ser., Ill, 473, 480, 495; Edward 
W. Hocker: "Spies, Hangings and Other Crimes During the Winter at Valley 
Forge," Picket Post (1948), p. 48. Henry Woodman, early amateur historian 
of Valley Forge, talked with people who saw the hanging. Cf. 12 GW II, 14 
and, on Church's fate, Fisher's Diary, June 4, 1778. 

160.3. On Galloway's value, see Egerton, pp. 85, 88-89. On Potts and Badge, 
ibid., pp. 136-37; 172; Van Doren, p. 91; CP passim. 

161.2-3. Documents Relating to the Colonial History of New York, VIII, 711. 
The guide already with the British was Ephraim Deforest, of Redding', who 
had joined the British in Nov., 1776. See Transcripts, XII, 277-79. On Zech- 
ariah Hawkins, see his confession, May 2, 1777, WP/LC; Samuel Orcutt and 
Ambrose Beardsley: History of the Old Town of Derby (1880), pp. 175, 202, 
231, 238, mention a Zechariah Hawkins probably identical with the innkeeper. 

161-62- On Dunbar, see records of Hartford Superior Court and Depositions 
in Revolutionary War Archives, VIII, 219-21; XXIX, 67-71, in Conn- State 
Library; N. Smith, G. B. Smith, and Allena J. Dates: Bristol, Connecticut, pp. 
141-49, Epaphroditus Peck: Loyalists of Connecticut, pp. 12-13; Epaphroditus 
Peck: History of Bristol, Chapter VII; Joseph Anderson: History of Waterbury, 
II, 434-38, 442, 458; Carleton Beals: Making of Bristol, pp. 66-69; T. Jones: 

Notes 383 

History of New York, I, 175; Anon.: Bristol, Connecticut (1907), pp. 141-55; 
Connecticut Courant, Jan. 7, March 3, 17, 24, 1777 (file in Conn. State Library). 

162.3. Transcripts, XII, 288. 

163.3-4. Report of Corporal Tompkins, Aug. 22, 1877, CP; terrain report, 
Oct. [?], 1777, CP. 

164.1. List of ships in Portsmouth, May 22, 1777; list of French officers; 
other documents, passim, April and May, 1777, all in CP, 

165.1. Mifflin to Gerry, Nov. 21, 1776, Walter Pforzheimer Collection. 

166.1. John Mersereau Papers, Nat. Arch. (W.17137); Gordon: History of 
New Jersey, II, 128, 150, 198; 2 GW 243. 

166.2. 6 GW 369; NJ. Archives, 2nd ser., Ill, 316; Pa. Mag., 8:392 (1884); 
the last for exploits of Joseph Reed, not strictly espionage. 

166.4. 6 GW 370; Henry Knox to Mrs. Knox, Dec. 28, 1776; Stryker, op. cit, 
pp. 371, 372; Am. Arch., 5th ser., 3:1342-44; Freeman, IV, 304; Chambers to 
GW, Dec. 16, 1776, LWS-1342/1; 6 GW 350. 

167ff. Honeyman's story is best told in John Van Dyke: "Unwritten Account 
of a Spy of Washington/' Our Home (local magazine of Somerville, N.J., x.1.455- 
52 (1873), file in NYPL. Van Dyke deposited a MS. with the Adjutant General, 
NJNG, but it has been allowed to disappear. There is an excellent article, 
Leonard Faulker: "Spy for Washington," American Heritage, 8:58-64 (1957). 
See also Charlton Beck: Roads of Home, pp. 95-106; William S. Stryker: Bat- 
les of Trenton and Princeton, p. 89; History Qy (Somerset County, N.J.), 8:250, 
270, 276 (1919); J. P. Snell: History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, NJ. 
(1881), p. 51. Certain Honeyman family documents are in the possession of 
Mrs. Maude Greene, formerly of the Library of the N.J. HS. See also G. O. 
Trevelyan: The American Revolution, II, 93-94. For Honeyman's imprisonment 
on treason charges and his subsequent release, see Minutes of the Council 
of Safety . . . NJ, Dec. 5, 1777 (p. 169) and Dec. 20, 1777 (p. 176). 

170.2. Snell, op. cit., p. 51; Am. Arch., 5th ser., 3:1343-44; Trenten HS, Tren- 
ton, I, 120. Cf. W. B. Reed: Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed, I, 272. 

170.3-4. 6 GW 457. Cf. Accounts. Map reproduced in Freeman, IV, 430, 
and A. H. Bill: Campaign of Princeton, p. 100. Original in LC; 6 GW 457. 

171-73. The best account of Sackett's network is in his own letter to Wash- 
ington of April 7, 1777. This had never been identified as Sackett's because 
the signature and a few lines of text were torn from the originalprobably 
by some cautious staff officer, eager to veil Sackett's identity. However, Sack- 
ett's own retained copy, hitherto unknown, is in the Sackett MSS. at Washing- 
ton's Headquarters, Newburgh, N.Y. The text of the original in Freeman, 
IV, 638-39, tells most of the story. See also 7 GW 92, 101; Accounts, p. 43; 
Warrant Book II, LC. 

174.1. Journal of the Honourable Hessian Grenadier Battalion at one time 
von Minnigerode later von Loewenstein, June 5, 1777, Hesse Hanau Jager 
Corps: German Transcripts at Morristown (N.J.) National Historical Park. 

174-77. Costigin's papers are in Nat, Arch., S/43/337, BL Wt. 403-200 (RG 
15 A). See also "Z" to GW, Dec. 7, 16, 19, 1778, WP/LC; memorial to GW, 
April 4, 1782, WP/LC. On Pollock, see Draper MS., 49-J-4-8, 65. On the 
Costigin family, see N.J. Archives, XXIV, 110; Christ Church Parish Register, 
1774 (typed copy in Rutgers University Library); for Washington's correspond- 
ence with his intelligence officers about Costigin, see Index of GW. See also 
GW to Maxwell, March 15, 19, 1779, WP/LC and 14 GW 240, 12 GW 346; 
Maxwell to GW, March 17, 1779; "Z" to Matthias Ogden, Dec. 28, 30, 1778; 


Stirling to GW, Jan. 13, 1779, all in WP/LC; Francis B. Heitman, Historical 
Register of Officers of the Continental Army . . . (1914), p. 172. A spy's report 
signed "Z" or "T" to Ogden from New York, Nov. 16, 1778, is in the Hough- 
ton Library, Harvard (*53M-163) but is in a handwriting different from that 
of the "Z" reports. 

177-79. Papers of John La Grange Mersereau (S-7217), John Mersereau (W- 
17137) and Joshua Mersereau, Jr. (S-7234) in Nat. Arch. See also HR. No. 
737, 1st Sess., 36th Congress, Report No. 546. The elder Joshua Mersereau 
has no record in Nat. Arch. See also New York Genealogical and Biographical 
Record, 27:195, (1896); Emma Mersereau Newton: "Genealogical History of 
the Mersereaus." Adams Mag. of General Literature, 26-10 (1892). (File in 

Lawrence Mersereau: "Mersereau Family Genealogy," New York Geneal. 
and Biog. Record, 28:17, 19-20, 71, 125 (1897), Gordon, History of New Jersey, 
II, 128, 150, 198. 

Addison to Joshua Mersereau 4 or 14 (no month, paper torn) 1782, in Pforz- 
heimer Collection; Warrant Book, No. 2, Dec. 20, 1776, WP/LC; Joshua Mer- 
sereau to Elias Boudinot, LWS-1481/1; GW to Smith, March 12, 1783, LWS- 

179-81. Washington to Stirling, July 26, 1777, 8 GW, 278, original in Pforz- 
heimer Collection. Text here follows the MS. On Meeker, see S-2815 and S- 
5087, Nat. Arch. See also 6 GW 280; 8 GW 353, 480; 10 GW 329; 12 GW 178, 
Morgan to GW July 24, 1777, WP/LC. Washington authorizes black market- 
ing in his letter of Sept. 29, 1777, HCL. Reports of the other spies named 
here are in WP/LC, chronologically arranged and alphabetically indexed. 
Maxwell to GW, Sept. 12, 1778, WP/LC, may refer to the Hendricks incident. 
See also Accounts, pp. 67-69. On the black marketing, see also LWS-603/1. 

181.3-5. Asher Fitz Randolph's military record is in the archives of the Ad- 
jutant General, NJNG, but it is silent as to his intelligence activities which 
are in WP/LC. Documents relating to Forman's ring are in the Pforzheimer 
Collection and WP/LC. 

182.2. Trevelyan, American Revolution, III, 223; 7 GW 361. The spy aboard 
H.M.S. Centurion is reported in Ogden to GW, July 24, 1777, WP/LC. 

182.3-4. 3 GW 385; 7 GW 385; 7 GW 462. General Adams Stephen's letter, 
warning Washington, is in the Papers of the Continental Congress (LG). Colonel 
Sylvanus Seeley's Diary is in the Morristown (N.J.) Historical National Park, 
Nov. 2, 4, 1779. It is not clear why it took two years to catch and hang this 

184-87. J. J. Boudinot, Life of Elias Boudinot, I, 72-74; Elias Boudinot, Jour- 
nal of Historical Recollections; Elias Boudinot's original MS. in John Carter 
Brown Library. Quotations are usually from the MS., which differs slightly 
from the printed version. On Luce, see Egerton, pp. 269, 313-14, and Tran- 
scripts, XXXIX, 47-60. Boudinot places this incident in the years 1777-1778; 
but, as he also places it at Morristown, it must have taken place in 1777. 
Cf. 7 GW 168. 

187.3. The falsehoods planned for the spy are in Washington to Boudinot, 
March 29, 1777, which was purchased by the NYHS in 1957. It was called 
to my attention by Mr. R. W. G. Vail. 

188-89. Alexander Bryan died in 1825. In 1852, his son, Daniel Bryan, made 
an affidavit to the story his father had told him, with confirmation by his 
mother. The original MS. is in the Pforzheimer Collection. See also Nathaniel 

Notes 385 

Bartlett Sylvester: History of Saratoga County, p. 151; DAR Lineage Book, 
XLV, 284; Minutes Albany Committee of Correspondence, 1 419 421 

190.4. 10 GW 1-4. 

192.1-5. 10 GW 2-4, 8-9. Clark's original reports are in WP/LC but are 
more conveniently accessible in HS Pa. Bull, 1:15-18 (1864). This is a separate 
section in the back of the volume, xvith its own paging. 

194.2-4. 16 GW 87-88; 14 GW 291-92, 304; 15 GW 3-4-n; 18 GW 81-8?- 19 
GW 162 (Mersereau). 

198ff. Major John Clark's military papers are in Nat. Arch. S/41482; BL 
Wt. 3-850, Special Act Feb. 20, 1819. See also E. W. Spangler: "Memoir of 
Major John Clark." Pa. Mag., 20:77-87 (1896). William Grayson to Clark, 
Dec. 11, 1776 (LWS) and Freeman, 304-n, show Clark on duty in Dec., 1776. 
Boudinot, Journal, p. 50, and 10 GW 169, 183, mention hucksters. See also 
McKenny to |~McLane], May 31, 1778, WP/LC. 

200.2. 9 GW 417-19; HS Pa. Bull, 1:3-4 (1864). Clark to GW from Goshen, 
Pa., Oct. 27, 1777, WP/LC. 

200.4. Ellis and Harris to Bradford, Oct. 14, 1777, WP/LC; Philadelphia 
History, I: 170, printing a letter whose original is in WP/LC, Nov. 17, 1777; 
10 GW 8-9; HS Pa. Bull., 1:5 (1848). 

201ff. Craig's reports, arranged by date are in WP/LC. Cf. 10 GW 73-77. 

201.2-3. Pa. Mag., 19: 361, 370 (1895). Cf. 10 GW 73, which fixes the date 
as "night before last," i.e., Nov. 15/16, 1777. The report of Nov. 17, 1777, may 
have come from Henry Hesmire, who on Oct. 23, 1777, was paid $160 for 
secret services. See Accounts, p. 53, and Warrant Book, WP/LC, this date. 

202.2. HS Pa. Bull., 5:13-14 (1848); Pa. Mag., 19:483-84 (1895). 

203.3. Ibid., 483-85. 

204-05. Diary of Robert Morton, Pa. Mag., 1:31 (1877); Marshall's Remem- 
brancer (Philadelphia), p. 162; Captain John Montresor's Diary, Colls. NYHS, 
14:480 (1881); HS Pa. Bull., 1:21-22 (1864); Spangler: "Memoir of Major John 
Clark." loc. cit., 20:79. On Rankin, see CP and Index, and Van Doren, passim. 
On Morton's Diary and Remembrancer, as above. 

206.1. GW to Chambers, 11 GW 151-52; Phila. Hist., I: 17 (1917). 

207.1. The best sources for Ludwick are William Ward Condit: "Christopher 
Ludwick, the Patriotic Gingerbread Baker," Pa. Mag., 81:365-90 (1957); L. H. 
Butterfield: "Psychological Warfare in 1776," Am. Philos. Soc. Bulletin, 236- 
37 (1950); J. F. Watson: Annals of Philadelphia, II, 44; Edward A. Mocker: 
"Baker General of the American Revolution" (MS.) original in Ludwick In- 
stitute, 1500 Morris Bldg., Philadelphia, and photostatic copy at Valley Forge 
Park; Benjamin Rush: Life of Ludwick (1801). 

207.2. On Bankson, see 12 GW 1, 151; Accounts, p. 53; Warrant Book II, 
fols. 88-r, 91-r, April 11 and May 1, 1778; Livingston to GW, April 9, 1778; 
Hamilton to Moylan, April 3, 1778, WP/LC. 

207.3. On the Green Boys and the Leverings, see Phila. Hist., 1:9, 17 (1917); 
Horatio Gates Jones: Levering Family, p. 44; Pa. Mag., 50:353, 358 (1926); 
58:232, 252-53 (1934); John Levering: Levering Family History and Genealogy, 
pp. 13, 144, 885. Military records of all three Levering Brothers are in the 
Nat. Arch., but only John's record refers to espionage and even this gives 
no details. 

208.2-4. T. A. Daly: The Wissahickon, p. 32; Phila. Hist., 1:15-17 (1917). 
Mrs. Rinker's exploits are largely based on legend, but there is no doubt 
that she existed and no reason to doubt the story. 


209.1-3. W. S. Baker: Itinerary of General Washington, p. 107. Henry Dar- 
rach: "Lydia Darragh, One of the Heroines of the Revolution," Phila. Hist. 
1:377-403 (1917), based on what Friend Lydia Darragh told her daughter; 
DAH, II, 185; Alexander Garden: Anecdotes of the American Revolution (2nd 
ser., 1828), pp. 46-48; Harry Emerson Wildes: Valley Forge, pp. 142-44; Mar- 
shall, op. cit., I, 183-84. Armstrong's report is in Pa. Arch., 1st ser., 6:43. Cf. 
Darrach, op. cit., p. 398. Lydia Darragh's story was first told anonymously 
in Am. Qy. Rev., 1:32-33 (1827). 

210.1-5. Craig to GW, Dec. 2, 3, 1777; Smith to GW, Dec. 3, 1777, WP/LC; 
7 GW 368-69. On Captain Robert Smith, see Pa. Arch., 6th ser., 1:498. Clark's 
report is in WP/LC and in HS Pa. Bull., 1:22 (1848), separately paged in 
back of volume. On McLane, see Marshall, op. cit., Ill, 317, and McLane 
Papers (NYHS), II, No. 57. W.D. to GW, Dec. 4, 1777, WP/LC. 

211.1-3. Watson, op. cit., I, 441; T. Westcott: The Historic Mansions . . . of 
Philadelphia, p. 190; J. T. Scharf and T. Westcott: History of Philadelphia, 
II, 869. See statement of Mrs. Thomas Newton, great-granddaughter of Lydia 
Darragh, in Phila. Hist., 1:386-88 (1917). 

212.3. Darrach, op. cit., pp. 386-87; Pa. Mag., 23:86ff. (1899); Records Phila- 
delphia Monthly Meeting, 4 month 27, 1781, 8 month 29, 1783. 

214.1. Am. Qy. Rev., 1:32-33 (1827). 

214.2-3. On the use of Lydia Darragh's route by spies, see Diary of Robert 
Morton, Nov. 23, 1777, Pa. Mag., 1:31 (1877), which discusses the Rising Sun 
Tavern, Dec. 8, 1777, p. 35. 

216.2-4. Benjamin Tallmadge: Memoirs (1858), pp. 26-27. 

219.4. Howard Swigget: The Great Man, p. 147. 

222ff. Accounts, pp. 68-69. On Meeker, see S-2815 and S-5087 in Nat. Arch.; 
10 GW, 329, 353, 398, 416. GW's letter authorizing black marketing, HCL. 

223.3. Max von Elking: German Allies in Revolution (1893), p. 154; Moylan 
to GW, May 13, 1778; 11 GW 302; T. Jones, op. cit., II, 210. 

223-24. On British intentions, see 11 GW 398; 12 GW 2. Montresor's Diary, 
Pa. Mag., 6:284 (1882); 11 GW 469, 471. 

224.2-4. 11 GW 307-08, 398-402, 418-20; McLane Papers, II, No. 57 (NYHS); 
Freeman, V, 8-9. 

225.34. 11 GW 399, 403-04, 413, 451, 455, 468-72; Moylan to GW, May 13, 
1778, WP/LC. 

226.2-3. Montresor's Diary, Colls. NYHS, 14 (1881) under dates. Reprinted Pa. 
Mag. 6 (1882). Alfred Hoyt Bill: Valley Forge, p. 185; 12 GW 482-83; Pa. Mag.,, 
25:21ff. There are scattered references in Pa. Arch., 1st ser. George Roberts 
is not to be confused with John Roberts, a British spy. See Scharf and Westcott, 
op. cit., I, 394-95; W. S. Stryker: Battle of Monmouth, pp. 65-66; Pa. Mag., 
13:304 (1889); Colonial Records of Pennsylvania, 13:304 (1889); 24:117 (1900). 

226-27. Scott to GW, Sept. 12, 1778, WP/LC; Morton W. Pennypacker: Gen- 
eral Washington's Spies, pp. 31-33; Tilghman to Scott, Sept. 21, 1777; Scott 
to GW, Sept. 20, Oct. 13, 1778; GW to CO Militia, Hackensack (not in Fitz* 
patrick) WP/LC, which also contain correspondence with Clough and Leaven 
worth; 12 GW 355-58. Tallmadge to GW, Nov. 17, 1778, refers to Scott's 
transfer as if it had taken place some time earlier and as if Scott had been 
in touch with one or both Culpers. 

228.1. Peters to McLane, April 26, 1804. This remarkable discovery and many 
others relating to Rivington were made by Dr. Catherine Snell Crary and 

Notes 387 

reported in "The Tory and the Spy," William and Mary Qy., 16:61-72 (1959), 
with full documentation. 

228.4. On secret whaleboat traffic across the Sound, see Diary of Sergeant Major 
Simon Giffin, microfilm at Yale, Dec. 6, 14, 1777. On Brewster, see com- 
mission issued to him by Governor Clinton, March 12, 1783, retroactive to 
June 23, 1780, in Pforzheimer Collection; GW to Tallmadge, Dec. 26, 1782, 
commenting on Brewster's gallantry (Goodspeed Cat. No. 482, Item 400); 
Brewster to Tallmadge, Aug. 18, 1780, WP/LC; Heitman, op. cit., p. 119; Nat. 
Arch., S-28367, on Brewster's pension claim; pension * claim of Joshua Davis, 
Nat. Arch., W-17698; Pennypacker, op. cit., passim; Tallmadge to GW, Nov. 
17, 1780, April 20, 1779; May 8, July 28, 1780; May 2, 1781, WP/LC. 

229-31. Paltsits: "Use of Invisible Ink ... ," loc. cit., 35:361-64; Journals 
Cont. Cong. (1905), III, 392; Howard Swiggett, op. cit., p. 232. The code books 
and Culper correspondence are in WP/LC. Washington's correspondence is filled 
with references to "stain," i.e., secret ink. Some of the documents used by Penny- 
packer are now in the Public Library, East Hampton, L.I., N.Y. The Deauson- 
bury incident is described by Deausonbury himself under date of March 23, 
1780, WP/LC. 

236. On Colonel Floyd, see Tallmadge to GW, Nov. 1, 1779, Litchfield HS. 

237-38. The only Major with the initial "J" in the army at this time was 
John Davis, local militia officer at Little Compton, R.I. His papers indicate 
he was engaged only in local militia service. See Nat. Arch., BL Wt. 544-500 
(RGA-15-A), and BL File 26787/Wt.3/583-160-55 (RGA-15-A). Joshua Davis's 
papers make it perfectly clear he was engaged in espionage with Brewster. 
See Nat. Arch. S/28367 and W.17698; Heitman, op. cit., p. 119. The Joshua 
Davis in Warrant Books I, II, 401, 403, WP/LC, may be a different man but 
he is in espionage and the first entry relates to whaleboats. See also Samuel 
Canfield to Humphreys, from Stamford, Sept. 19, 1782, WP/LC. 

238ff. These minor agents are in WP/LC and may be traced by Index. Tall- 
madge to GW, May 2, 1781, shows he was then acquainted with "S.G." This 
MS. is at Litchfield. See also Tallmadge to GW, Sept. 2, Nov. 28, 1782; GW 
to Tallmadge, May 18, Sept. 3, Oct. 17, 1782; Anon to Tallmadge, Dec. 1, 
5, 8, 1782; other letters of Aug. 31, Sept. 1, Dec. 8, 1782, all in WP/LC. 

239.1. Burgin to GW, Nov. 19, 1779, formerly in WP/LC, now in Nat. Arch; 
17 GW 319; Journals Cont Cong., XV, 1424; Papers of the Continental Con- 
gress, No. 152, VIII, fols, 271, 312. 

239.3-4. On the "refugee/' see Tallmadge to GW, Aug. 12, 1781, Litchfield 
HS. Aaron Burr assisted some of the generals in sending out spies. See 
Matthew L. Davis: Memoirs of Aaron Burr, pp. 129-30, 149-50. 

240-41. Dayton to GW, April 14, 1781; GW to Brodhead, April 25, 1781; 
GW to President of Congress, April 25, 17.81, all in WP/LC; Clark to GW, 
May 21, 1781 (III HS Colls., VIII, 388-90); Louise Phelps Kellogg: Frontier 
Retreat, pp. 398, 400; Michael J. O'Brien: Hercules Mulligan, pp. 93-96 and 
Hidden Phase of American History, pp. 150-51; G. W. P. Custis: Recollections 
and Private Memoirs of George Washington (1933), pp. 19, 46; Narrative of 
Hercules Mulligan (MS.), Hamilton Papers, LC, photostat at Columbia and 
printed text in William and Mary Qy. f 3rd ser., 4:203-25 (1947). 

241.1. Tallmadge to GW, May 8, 1780, at Litchfield HS. 

242. 16 GW 87-88, 136-37, 146, 231, 246-49; 14 GW 304; 17 GW 291-92, 304, 
338, 369, 438-39; Hunter to Clinton, dated only "Thursday 5 O'Clock P.M.," 
Intelligence Papers, 1781, CP. There was also in Hunter's native Bedford, 


N.Y., a spy with the initials E.H., who is supposed to have been "Elisha 
Holmes," described as "one of Washington's most confidential spies." As no 
trace of Elisha Holmes can be found, this may have been a pseudonym of 
Hunter's. See Scharff: History of Westchester County, II, 338, 599-n. On Hunt- 
er's life, see The Christian Course, sermon pamphlet by the Rev. John Stan- 
ford, in NYPL. It was preached Dec. 22, 1815. He is mentioned in the will of 
Hugh Hunter, proved 1869 (William S. Pelletreau: Early Wills of Westchester 
County, No. 508, pp. 268-69); Lea Luquer: "Tarleton's Raid Through Bedford 
in 1779," MS. in Westchester County HS (1868); Charles Burtis Hunter: "Cap- 
tain Elijah Hunter." Museum Intelligencer (Ossining, N.Y.), 3:3 (1942); Jay to 
GW, March 28, 1779; Hunter's report in McDougall to GW, May 23, 1779; 
Hunter to GW, May 21, 1779, all in WP/LC; Pennypacker, op. cit., p. 134; 
Van Doren, p. 300-01. 

243-44. 17 GW 221; Cork to Tallmadge, Oct. 13, 1783, WP/LC. On Swain 
Parcel, or Parsel, see Archives, AGO, NJNG, Trenton; Edwin F. Hatfield: 
History of Elizabeth, N.J., p. 509. There is no trace in Nat. Arch., though 
N.J. records show he applied for pension, Invalid No. 34466. 

243.5-6. On Hatfields: Vanderhovan to GW, Nov. 6, 1780, WP/LC; 17 GW 
338, 369, 438-39; T. Jones, op cit., I, 266; Docs. Relating to the Colonial Hist, 
of N.Y., XV, 390; DA R Lineage Book, III, 98; XXII, 154; Frederick G. Mather: 
Refugees of 1776 from Long Island to Connecticut (1913), p. 997. This shows 
Moses Hatfield had served under General Scott which may explain his in- 
telligence work. See also Nat. Arch., LW/11-19-58. 

244-49. Gray's story is best told in his pension statement, Nat. Arch. S/38/776 
(RG15A). The Massachusetts legislative records Index shows a petition from 
Gray in 1823 and action granting and then revoking it; but the document 
itself has disappeared. See Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolu- 
tion, VI, 766; Colls. Hist, and Misc. (Concord, N.H.), 2:80-81 (1823); New Eng- 
land Galaxy, Jan. 31, 1823; 17 Feb. 1823; Lossing: Pictorial Field-Book, 1, 691- 
n; MAR, 11:434-35 (1884). The David Gray in CP is easily identifiable as the 
same man. The David Gray in Hemmenway's Gazetteer, living in Wells, Vt., 
may be some one else. See also Hiland Paul: History of Wells, Vt.; George 
S. Bryan: The Spy in America, pp. 92-93. 

24647. Secret Intelligence MSS., NYPL; MAH, 11: 434-35 (1885). There are 
also two MS. versions of this in CP. 

247-48. Statement of Charles Chittenden, who actually saw Ledyard at New 
London at this time. See also Gray's own statement. Both in Gray pension 
file, S/38/776 (RG15A), Nat. Arch. 

249-51. Marks is known by his reports in CP and two obscure references in 
Historical Manuscripts Commission, American Manuscripts in the Royal In- 
stitution, Vol. 40, No. 164, 2 pp. and Sabine: op. cit., II, 47-48. The MSS. were 
presented to Queen Elizabeth II by President Eisenhower, but there are photo- 
stats in NYPL. See also Samuel Orcutt: History of Stratford, pp. 1243-44 and 
Eliza J. Lines: Marks-platt Ancestry, pp. 33-34, for the Marks family. 

250.1; 251.1. Location of Draun (Drowned) and Round Meadows and Old 
Man's by Mrs. K. Stryker Rodda, of the Long Island HS. See also Beers: 
Atlas of Long Island History (1873). 

250.2. Secret Intelligence MSS., NYPL; MAH, 10:413 (1883). 

252-65. Ann Bates is known by her pension application in the PRO, London, 
Treasury Documents, Tl/611, Mar. 17, 1785, with supporting documents. It is 
confirmed by British Intelligence Book (111.20.11) in MS. Room, LC, where 

Notes 389 

she is referred to only as "the Woman," but where dates and facts correspond 
to and, to some degree, are confirmed by Washington's Papers. 

253.3-4. Oliver Pelat: Atom Spies, pp. 5, 214, 216, 275, 280. 

253.6. On peddlers, Burnett, op. cit., VI, 246. 

255.2. Intelligence Book (111.20.11), LC. Cf. statement of the deserter, John 
McMullen, ibid., July 31, 1778. 

250.2. Memorandum Book, Sept. 30, 1778, CP. 

260.5. On Ann Bates and Arnold, see Frances Vivian: "Capture and Death 
of Major Andre," History Today, 7:813-14 (1957). 

261.3. Drummond was in Portsmoth, England, in April, 1779. See Facsim., 
X, 992; Auckland MSS., King's College, Cambridge, April 16, 1779. 

262.2. On "the Fair one," etc., see Beckwith to Delancy, Sept. 3, 1781; re- 
port of Joseph Clark, June 1, 1781, CP. 

262-65. On escaping prisoners, Andre's Intelligence Book, July 23, 1779, CP. 
The Lee story comes mainly from the "intendant" of the prison, who had 
every opportunity to learn the facts. An article based on his account appeared 
in New England Mag. This was reprinted by J. I. Mombert: Authentic History 
of Lancaster County, Pa., pp. 298-306. See also Sherman Day: Hist. Colls. Pa., 
s.v. Lancaster; "Captain Andrew Lee," Notes and Queries Relating to Pennsyl- 
vania, 1st ser., 1:167-76 (1894); W. H. Egle: History of Dauphin and Lebanon 
Counties, pp. 45-48 (Lebanon section); H. B. Plumb: History of Hanover Town- 
ship and Wyoming Valley (1885), pp. 444-45; Lancaster County HS Publs., 
11:338-39 (1906-1907); -ibid., 9:203 (1904-1905); Hist. Mag. f 15:203 (Feb., 1872); 
Pa. Mag., 3:167 (1879); 5:119 (1881); Fa. Arch., 5th ser., 3:765; Parsons: Diary 
of Jacob Hiltzheimer; Ellis and Evans: History of Lancaster County (1869), 
pp. 298-303; Arthur D. Graeff: "The Legend of 'Major' Lee" in " 'S Pennsyl- 
fawnisch Deitsch Eck," Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call, Sept. 26, 1946. There 
is a report on Lancaster County prisons in Lancaster Co. HS Publs., 10:157-61 
(1906). For the legal action against Tory conspirators, see Colonial Records of 
Pennsylvania, 1st ser., 13:442, 495, 512, and Hiltzheimer, as above. 

267.2. Most of these agents are in the CP, For further data, see notes below 
and Index of William S. Ewing: Guide to the Manuscript Collections in the 
William L. Clements Library, and Egerton, pp. 283-84 (Shoemaker), 181 (Haz- 
ard); T. Gilpin Smith: Exiles in Virginia, p. 72. 

268.2. Chew to Andre, June 20, 1779; Van Doren, p. 271. 

268.3-4. Ewing, op. cit., lists most agents. See especially Intelligence Papers, 
CP, Aug. 31, 1779, Feb. 10, 25, 1781, March 2, 1781. On Whitcuff, Egerton, 
p. 132. 

268.5. On Fox, see Fox to Stevenson (?) dated only "Thursday morning," but 
presumably Sept. 16, 1779; "State of Affairs with F-" both in CP; Van Doren, 
pp. 224-28. 

269.4. Anon, to Brant, Haldimand Papers, Vt. Hist. Colls. 2:345 (1871). 

269-71. Code and cipher keys in CP; Intelligence Papers, Nos. 1-7, Jan. 1, 
March 20, 1780, CP. 

272-75- James Moody, op. cit., pp. 18-20; Isaac Q. Leake: Memoir of the Life 
. . . of General John Lamb (1850), pp. 248-75; Wagenen to Malcolm, Aug. 7, 
1780; Arnold to Lamb, Aug. 16, 1780; GW to Arnold, Aug. 19, 1780; Heath 
to GW, Sept. 27, 1780; Stewart to Dayton, May 4, 1781, Stewart Papers (bMX/ 
Am 1243, No. 389), HCL; GW to Lafayette, May 31, 1781; 22 GW 144, 155, 161, 
168; Mackenzie, op. cit. f II, 536; James Thacher: Military Journal of the Amer- 
ican Revolution, p. 263; Reed, op. cit., II, 383; Duer to Malcom, Aug. 7, 1780, 


Lamb Papers, NYHS. New England Hist. & Geneal. Reg., 23:104 (1869); Sabine, 
op. cit. f II, 48, 90-98; Salter and Beckwith, op. cit., pp. 51-60; Egerton, p. 
144-n; Peters to Dimlap, Oct. [?], Nov. [?], 1781, in Book of First City Troop, 
pp. 43-44; Moore, op. cit., II, 307-08; Parsons, op. cit., p. 47, Nov. 13, 1781; 
Pennsylvania Gazette, Nov. 14, 1781; Pa. Mag., 16: 160-61 (1892); Journals Cont. 
Cong., (ed. Hunt), XXI, 1160 (Dec. 5, 1781); Edison's letter to Congress, VIII, 
375, in Papers of the Continental Congress, LC; Freeman, V. 275a.; Moody to 
Clinton, passim, 1781, in CP. Sabine, op. cit., II, 48, seems to be in error in 
stating Marr was also hanged. Occasional references to this man as "La Marr" 
seem to be due to the abbreviation of Laurence to "La." Moody appears as a 
first lieutenant in Gaines's Register, 1782, and in Rivington's Army List, 1783. 

276. Bowler's correspondence with Clinton is published in Jane Clark: "Met- 
calf Bowler as a British Spy." R. I. HS Colls., 23:101-17 (1930), originals in 
CP. See also Van Doren, pp. 127-29, 235, 429. On Ferguson see Egerton, pp. 
259-60 and Ferguson to Clinton, Aug. 25, 1777, CP. 

277-79. The Barker story is best told in Isaac Barker's pension statement, 
Nat. Arch., R/21772 (RGI5). See also statements of Hezekiah Barker and Seth 
Chapin (R/1861). Benjamin Cowell, the local official who handled Isaac Bark- 
er's pension application, tells the story in his Spirit of '76 in Rhode Island 
(1850), p. 182. See also Edward Peterson: History of Rhode Island, p. 220; 
Samuel G. Arnold: Historical Sketches of Middletown, R.L, p. 31; Representa- 
tive Men and Old Families of Rhode Island, p. 181; Eleanor Barker MSS., 
Newport HS. On General Cornell, see DAB, IV, 444. In the R. I. Dept. of 
State, Providence, see MS. "Council of War," IV, 30, Nov. 26, 1779; "Letters 
to the Governor," XV, 62- Edward Field: "Isaac Barker's Signal/ 1 Newport 
Mercury, Nov. 28, 1903, in Newport HS. The writer of Anon, to Sullivan, 
July 3, 23, 1779, WP/LC, may well be Barker. On Seth Chapin, see Massa-- 
chusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolution, III, 319. On the Taggart-Hegel 
story, see "Interesting Memoir," undated clipping from Providence Literary 
Journal, in a scrapbook in Newport HS. There is a similar article in Newport 
Mercury, Dec. 18, 1863. See also George Champlin Mason: Reminiscences of 
Newport, p. 183. There is some information on the Taggarts in Nat. Arch, 

281.1. On Washington's dukedom, see Draper MS. (State HS Wis.) 23 J 52; 
Pennsylvania Packet, Aug. 2, 1781; Sir John Dalryrnple: "Thoughts on In- 
structions to the American Commissioners," Historical Manuscripts Commis- 
sion, Stopford-Sackville MSS,, II, 103-04; Commager and Morris, op. cit. f II, 
694; Clare College (Camb. 1928, I, 174); Van Doren, p. 80. 

282.2. Ibid., pp. 15-17; Graydon, op. cit., p. 215; T. Jones, op. cit,, I, 630. 
285.2. Benjamin Tallmadge: Memoir (1858), p. 35; Tallmadge to Sparks, in 

Pennypacker, op. cit., p. 168; C. de W. Willcox: "Ethics of Major Andre's Mis- 
sion/' Journ. Mil. Service Inst. of the U.S., 57:368-78 (1915). 

288.2-5. Willard M. Wallace: Traitorous Hero, p. 130; William Tcele Stone: 
Life of Brant, II, 116-19. The handbill is summarized in Am. Arch., 5th ser., 
Ill, 1158-59. See also Papers of the Continental Congress, 162, I, fol. 86, LC; 
Journals Cont. Cong., VII, 371, 373: McLane Papers (NYHS), Vol. I, Nos. 62, 75, 
113; Vol. II, No. 57; Pennypacker, op. cit., p. 186; McHenry to McLane, June 3, 
1778, WP/LC. 

289.L H, L. Barnum, op. cit., p. 153. 

289.2. Black Sam is described in Daniel Van Winkle: History of the Munich 
palities of Hudson County, N.J., I, 55. 



291.2. Pennypacker, op. cit., pp. 112-16, probably foUowing local tradition. 
There is nothing implausible in this story, though it has been questioned by 
writers unfamiliar with military intelligence. 

291.3-5. The MS. note is reproduced in Pennypacker, op. cit. 

292.2-3. On Crosby, see his pension statement, Nat. Arch. S/10/505. Culper's 
comment is in his letter to Tallmadge, Oct. 20, 1780, WP/LC, and in Penny- 
packer, op. cit., p. 186, 270. 

294. The efforts to draw Parsons in are set forth in British Private Intelli- 
gence Papers, Emmett Collection (MSS.), NYPL, reprinted in MAH: 10, 11 
(1883-1884), see also Charles S. Hall: Life and Letters of Samuel Holden Par- 
sons, pp. 308-09; Jonathan Trumbull and Joseph Gurley Woodward: Vindica- 
tion of Patriots, pp. 13-55; G. B. Loring: Vindication of General Samuel Holden 
Parsons. See also Parsons to GW, April 6, 1782, WP/LC. 

294-95. Original MS. is among Wallis Papers, now in possession of Howard 
Wallis, Muncy, Pa. Microfilm copies in HS Pa. and Muncy HS. Receipt is 
in Reel 2. The individual documents are not numbered. On Wallis's back- 
ground, see William Wade Hinshaw: Encyclopaedia of American Quaker Gen- 
ealogy^ and MSS. records of Deer Creek, Exeter, and Philadelphia Meetings, 
now in possession of Department of Records, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. 
There are further notes on Wallis's doing in Catawissa Meeting Records, now 
in Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore, Pa. On Washington's purchase, 
see Accounts, pp. 22, 23. 

295.4. Stansbury to Andre", July 12, 1779 (CP); Van Doren, p. 217. 

296.1. The Wallis Papers are filled with details of Wallis's business activity. 
See also Peletiah Webster to Silas Dean (sic), April 2, 1774, Now and Then, 
9:19 (1927); T. Kenneth Wood: "History in the Making of the West Branch," 
Northumberland Co. HS Proc. 4:46-66 (1932); Field-Book of John Henderson 
(MS.) in Wallis Papers. Papers relative to Wallis's road are in the Court 
House, Sunbury, Pa. See Index to Vols. 5 and 6 of Now and Then. 

29$ff. Nat. Arch, have an envelope on Gershom Hicks, but it is empty. 
Carded records, however, list him as receiving Bounty Land Warrant No. 9570, 
April 20, 1796, for service in the Pennsylvania Line and he is mentioned in 
military records in Pa. Arch., passim, see Index. Hicks's espionage is recorded 
in 14 GW 168-69; Charles Miner, Hist, of Wyoming, p. 260 and 14 GW 170-n, 
the original MS. being (1959) in possession of Gilbert S. McLintock, Wilkes 
Barre, Pa.; Hand to GW, March 29, 1779; Patterson to GW, April 3, 1779, 
WP/LC. On early British suspicion of Hicks, see deposition of William Grant, 
April 14, 1764; Gage to Bouquet, May 14, 1764, Bouquet Papers, Public Ar- 
chives, Canada (BM, Addit. MSS. 61366-61368). See also Uriah J. Jones: History 
of Juniata Valley (1855), pp. 234-35; Sylvester K. Stevens and Donald H. Kent: 
Wilderness Chronicles of Northwestern Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, Pa., 1941); 
Hicks's land purchases from Wallis, Nov. 1, 1790, April 23, 1793, Wallis Papers, 
Reels 1 and 2; Patterson to GW, April 3, 1779, WP/LC. 

299. Details of Wallis's negotiations with the British are in CP passim, dur- 
ing 1779. But Wallis's pass and Stephen Chambers 's letter from Sunbury, 
June 13, 1779, are in the Wallis Papers, Reel 4. See also Van Doren, pp. 218-19. 

300.1. 14 GW 160; Van Doren, p. 219. 

300.3-4. Charles Tornier's statement, June 9, 1779, and undated statement 
immediately following, CP. On the spy scare, see "Orderly Book of Lieutenant 
Colonel Francis Barber/' in Notes from the Craft Collection in the Tioga 
Point Museum on the Sullivan Expedition, pp. 51-52. 


301.1. Stephen Chambers to Wallis, June 13, 1779, Wallis Papers, Reel 4. 

303.1. J. G. Simcoe: Military Journal, p. 294; H. C. Lodge: Hamilton's Works, 
VIII, 28; Van Doren, pp. 266-67; Freeman, V, 217-n; Wallace: Traitorous Hero, 
p. 257. 

303.4. On Aaron Ogden, see N.J. HS Proc., 2nd ser., 12:13-31 (1894); 51:172- 
73 (1933); National Portrait Gallery (1834 ed. only). 

304.1. Letter of May 13, 1780, CP. See also "State of Affairs with F.-" 
[Andrew Furstner] CP, which gives a list of American generals with xvhose 
loyalty the British sought to tamper, and "Extract of a Letter received the 
25th of April 1740," folio 4, CP. 

304ff. The main source for the Champe story is Henry Lee: Memoirs of the 
War in the Southern Department. Writing in his old age, Lee makes it appear 
that Champe was sent out to save Andre", whereas the CP show he did not 
arrive till nearly a fortnight after Andre" had been hanged. It is, however, 
entirely possible that Lee merely became confused and that saving Andre* 
really was a motive at the beginning of the plot. The story as told by Lee 
is confirmed by Mrs. Phoebe Champe in her petition now in Nat. Arch., File 
W/4/153, Bl Wt., 948-100 of John Champe, Rev. War (RG 15A) and in HR 
558, Feb. 17, 1838, 25th Cong., 2nd Sess. Report No. 568 (on the petition); 
9 US Statutes at Large 697. Major Allan McLane, who hated Lee, is rather 
caustic in McLane Papers (NYHS), Vol. I, No. 113. 

306-07. Lee's contemporary papers on the plot are Lee to GW, Sept. [?], 
1780, Oct. 21, 25, 1780, WP/LC. Cf. 20 GW 223-24. Secondary accounts, not 
all trustworthy, are George Lippard: Legends of the American Revolution 
(1876), pp. 224-53; Ida MaBelle Judy: "John Champe the Soldier and the 
Man," in Antiquities of Virginia; Daniel Van Winkle: "Hudson County During 
the Revolution" HS Hudson Co., Papers, No. 4, pp. 28-32 (1908); Pa. Mag., 
15:82 (1891). Jared Sparks: Life of George Washington (1844), p. 318-n; Life 
and Treason of Arnold, p. 267; William and Mary Qy., 2nd ser., 18:322-42 
(1939); 19:548-54 (1940). An alleged interview between Champe and his former 
Tory commander, after the war, seems to be mainly based on Lee. 

317.3-4. McLane Papers (NYHS), Vol. II, Nos. 27, 41, 42. 

318.1. Elihu Hall is in Facsim., I, No. 122. 

319.3. S. Hazard (ed.): Register of Pennsylvania, II, 165 (1828); Henry Clinton: 
American Rebellion (ed. William B. Willcox, 1954), pp. 240-41. British in- 
telligence reports not otherwise documented in this chapter are from CP, 
where they can be located by names and dates. 

319-20. Van Doren, p. 66; Rochambeau: MJmoires (1809), I, 260-61. 
320-21. Hazard, op. tit,, II, 165-66. 

321.6. "Captain G." is mentioned in MSS., Secret Intelligence, NYPL; MAH, 
10:332 (1883). 

323.4. A clipping from an unidentified source in the Perth Amboy Public 
Library states that Rattoon himself betrayed the British agents. The American 
accounts here quoted show that Mason revealed his own identity; but it is 
possible that Rattoon, acting as a double agent, also provided information. 
A letter of May 22, 1779 (WP/LC), warning Washington of British movements, 
was credited to "Mr. Rattoon of So. Amboy," supposedly Robert Rattoon, 
innkeeper and later postmaster there, but possibly John Rattoon. See Van 
Doren, p. 202. 

325-26. Conyngham's Diary, in Book of the First City Troop, pp. 38-40; 
Wayne to GW, Jan. 12, 1781, WP/LC; Robert MacFarlan, Isaac Myers, Jona- 

Notes 393 

than Odell, John Rattoon, "Mr. Potts/' Uzal Woodruff, Jan. 15-25, 1785, CP. 
On Captain Caleb Bruen, see CP, Index, passim., and Newark Daily Advertiser, 
Dec. 29, 1863, Aug. 5, 1864; AGO Archives, NJNG; William S. Stryker: Jersey- 
men in the Revolutionary War, p. 442; William H. Shaw: History of Essex and 
Hudson Counties; David L. Pierson: Narratives of Newark (1917), p. 213; 
History of the City of Newark (1913), I, 362-63; Joseph Atkinson: History of 
Newark, N.J., p. 116; Carl Van Doren: Mutiny in January, pp. 170-73; Kenny to 
GW, Feb. 8, 1783; Hazen to GW, Feb. 12, 1783; GW to Hazen, Feb. 18, 1783; 
Hazen to GW, Feb. 28, 1783, all in WP/LC. On Bruen's later career see 
N.J. Archives, 1st ser., XII, 175; XLI, XLII, 313; Abstracts of Wills, XIII, 
File I0849-G; and will of Simeon Baldwin, of Bloomfield, Newark Township, 
Essex Co., Aug. 3, 1806, NJ. Archives, 1st ser., XI (Abstracts of Wills, XI), 20, 
File 10392-G. See also Index to CP. 
329.2. Elias Boudinot: Memoirs and MS. 

330.2. Andrews Intelligence Book, July 7, 1780, CP. Where names and dates 
are given in the text, documents from the CP are not usually noted here as 
they are easily located in the collection. 

331.1. Private Intelligence (MSS.), NYPL. On MacFarlan's identity, see Carl 
Van Doren: Mutiny in January, pp. 141, 170-76, 184, 212, 248, 264-68, 269. 

332.3. 22 GW 143; Mackenzie, op. cit., II, 536; Thacher, op. cit., p. 263; 
Leake, op. cit., pp. 274-75; H. Clinton, American Rebellion (ed. William B. 
Willcox, 1954). 

333.2. Egerton, p. 188. Haliburton states he had been in medical practice 
in Newport for seventeen years. 

334.2. For some reason his July 1 report is the only one of the Marks re- 
ports that was copied into the Private Intelligence MSS., NYPL. See also 
MAH, 11:440 (1884). The text here follows the MS. in CP. 

335. On Williamson's report, see Private Intelligence MSS., NYPL; MAH, 
11:57, 61 (1884). "Elises House" was the home of William Ellison. 

336.4. British Intelligence Book, LC, Aug. 11, 1781. 

337.2. Freeman, V. 309. In his Memoires, I, 295, Rochambeau says he had 
news from De Grasse, Aug. 5, but apparently this was an advance dispatch 
without details. See Doniol, op. cit., V, 520-22. 

337.3. Innis to Harrison, Feb. 11, 1782, Cal.VaSP, III, 58-59. 

338. Morgan's story was told to Jared Sparks by Lafayette himself. It is 
interesting to note that Sparks mentions Colonel Barber as Morgan's com- 
manding officer. This is correct, and Barber's battalion had gone south with 
Lafayette. See Sparks: Writings of Washington, VIII, 152-54-n; Lossing: Pic- 
torial Field-Book, II, 511-n; Morgan's military papers, AGO, NJNG; Nat. Arch., 
BL. Wt. 8538400 (RglSA). 

339-40. On "he ovens, see Elias Boudinot: Memoirs and MS; Rochambeau, 
op. cit., I, 286; G. W. P. Custis: Memoirs and Private Recollections of Wash- 
ington (1860), p. 230. On the captured dispatches, see Lossing: Pictorial Field- 
Book f I, 781-82 and Custis, op. cit., pp. 231-32 and notes. While Custis is 
obviously quoting Lossing, in part at least, his close association with Wash- 
ington makes this partially confirmatory. 

342. logger appears only in Accounts, p. 89. 

342.3. Clinton: Narrative of the Campaign in 1781, II, 193; CP, Sept. 4-6, 

344.2. Moore, op. cit., II, 518. The hour is fixed by a postscript Elias Bou- 


dinot added to a letter five hours later. See Burnett, op. cit., VI, 246; Pa. 
Gazetter, Oct. 24, 1781. 

346ff. The MSS. on Bissell are in his military records, Nat. Arch, and in 
the Library of Congress. In Nat. Arch, are a jacket showing his service in 
the 2nd Conn., eleven cards; Pension File W-23604; old army records, a Jacket 
showing his service in the 2nd Conn, and his citation, Vol. 74, p. 92. Among 
published sources are unidentified clippings in the Ontario County (N.Y.) HS; 
pay rolls of 2nd Conn. Revolutionary War ser., Vol. Ill, documents, 35-37 
(1781) in Conn. State Library; Henry R. Stiles: History of Ancient Windsor; 
Ichabod Jeremiah Perry: Brief History of Life and Services of ... to which 
is added the escape from the British of Bissell,, the American spy (Rochester, 
1828; NYHS); Report of the Centennial Celebration . . . at Windsor, Conn. 
(1876), p. 17; Daniel Howard: New History of Old Windsor. 

347. Bissell omits many details in his 1818 affidavit, but he says nothing 
that contradicts this account, which is based on Bissell's own statement to 
Perry. The dialogue is, of course, from Bissell's own account. Arthur R. 
Thompson: Road to Glory is an historical novel about Bissell. See also Colls. 
Conn. HS, 8:68 (1901); 12:85 (1909) and William Brown Meloney: "Secret of 
the Purple Heart," originally published in the New York Herald-Tribune Mag- 
azine, reprinted in pamphlet form by the Military Order of the Purple 
Heart, Chicago, n.d., pp. 9-10. 

350-51. Captain Neff does not appear in the British Army List for 1782. He 
probably held an emergency commission. On Bissell's stay in hospital, see 
Perry, op. cit. 

353.2-3. Document 370, fols. 1246-47. 

356.2. Date of return is given by Perry, op. cit. It corresponds with the 
payrolls of the 2nd Conn. 

357.3. On Halifax, see GW to Hancock, May 8, 1782, HCL. 

360. Peggy Arnold's receipt is in Wallis Papers, Reel 4 of the microfilm. 
On Stansbury's business activities, 1781, ibid.. Reels 2 and 5. On his flight, 
Now and Then, 5:171 (1936), Wallis Papers, Wallis to Hollingsworth, July 
12, 1794. 

360-61. On Howe, see Am. Hist. Rev., 17:70-102, 332-54 (1911-1912). See also 
Colls. Nova Scotia HS, 29:99-102 (1951). 

361.3. On Moody, Transcripts, XXV, 250-56; XXXVIII, 119-30; New England 
Hist, and Geneal. Reg., 23:104 (1869); Sabine, op. cit., passim. 

361.5. Bates Petition, PRO, Treasury Document TI/611. 
362-5. Barnum, op. cit., II, 128. 

363.6. County Clerk's Records, Ontario Co., N.Y.; clipping in Ontario Co. 
HS, Canandaigua, N.Y.; Bissell's statement, Nat. Arch., also in records of the 
Court of Common Pleas, Ontario Co., May 29, 1818; Washington's Orderly 
Book, Vol. 74, p. 92 (Newburgh, N.Y.). 

364.4. The post-war story of the Culpers is in Pennypacker, op, cit., pp. 
60-61-n, Supplement (1948), pp. 1-7, 33-36. 

* * 


Adams, Samuel, 73 

Addison, Joseph, 120-21 

Addison, Thomas, 275 

Admiralty, 92 

agents provocateurs, 128 

Albany, N.Y., 86, 144, 161, 267, 357 

Albuquerque, N.M., 253 

Allen, Ethan, 244, 246 

Allentown, Pa., 260 

Amawalk, N.Y., 267 

Amboise, Chevalier d', 81, 90-91 

Amboy, N.J., 178, 185 

American Legion, 315-16 

Amicus Reipublicae, 181 

A mphitrite f 1 64 

Anderson, John; see Andr, Major 


Anderson, Thomas, 158 
Andrl, Major John, 20, 28, 122, 152, 

164, 214, 261-62, 266-70, 281-93, 299, 


Annapolis, Md,, 343 
Antwerp, 91 
Appleby, Joseph, 335 
Aquacanunck Bridge, 341 
"A.R.," 181 

Armstrong, General John, 209 
army regulations, 19-20 
Arnold, General Benedict: Bates, Ann, 

253-54, 259; British service, 349; 

business, 359-60; condemns spy, 160; 

duel, 361; flight, 236, 273; kidnap 
plans, 302-17; New London, 245, 247- 
48; pass from, 253-54, 259; Robinson, 
Colonel Beverly, 163; suspicions of, 
288-89; treason plot, 266, 281-92; 
woman spy, 260-61 

Arnold, Mrs. Benedict; see Shippen, 

artificers, 248, 252-254 

artillery, 18, 30-31, 37, 58, 70-72, 76, 90, 

254-58> 2 74 

Asia, H.M.S., 95, 99-100 
assassination of General Washington, 

98-99> H4 
atom spies, 253 
Augusta, Fort, Pa., 298 

Badge, Thomas, 160-61 
Baird, Abraham, 167 
Baldwin, Colonel Loammi, 34, 88 
Balfour, Colonel Nesbit, 253 
Baltimore, Md., 343, 363 
Banker, Abraham, 180-81 
Bankson, Captain Jacob, 207 
Barber, Colonel Francis, 338 
Barclay, Thomas, 325 
Barker, Gideon, 277 
Barker, Hezekiah, 277 
Barker, Isaac, 277-280 
Barker, Samuel, 277 
Barnard, Thomas, 77 



Barnes, a Tory, 47-49, 51, 62-65 
Barren Hill, 197, 224 
Barrett, Colonel James, 30 

Barrington, Captain, 211 

Barrington, Lydia; see Darragh, Lydia 

Basking Ridge, N.J., 171 

Bates, Ann, 252-65, 267, 361 

Bates, Joseph, 253, 361 

Beats; see Bates 

Beckit, Captain, 244 

Beckwith, Captain George, 194, 244 

Bedford, N.Y., 241 

Bedford County, Pa., 296 

Beekman, James, 118 

Beekwith, 194 

Belly Forge, 256 

Bemis Heights, N.Y., 189 

Bennett, Joseph, 136 

Bennington, Vt., 141 

Bergen, N.J., 157, 186 

Bergen Woods, 306 

Berniere, Ensign Henry De, 38-53, 59 

Bethlehem, Pa., 260 

Bettys, Joseph, 163 

Bigelow, Captain Timothy, 44-45 

billetting, 212 

Birch, Harvey, 136 

Bissell, Sergeant Daniel, 344, 346-58, 

Black Sam, 289 

Blair County, Pa., 296 

Blauvelt, Tunis, 268 

Bliss, Daniel, 35, 52-54 

boats, small, 72-74, 83, 166, 173, 218, 
226, 240, 242, 257, 338 

Bolton, John; see Tallmadge, Ben- 

"Bond," 180 

Bonvouloir, Achard de, 81, 90-92 

Bordentown, N.J., 261 

Boston, Mass.: artillery in, 30-31, 70- 
72; Church family, 22-23; communi- 
cations, 16-17; espionage, 16, 25, 28, 
32, 41, 50, 68-81, 85, 90; evacuation, 
93; John Howe in, 66-67; sabotage, 

Boston Harbor, 83, 89 

Boston Neck, 72, 74, 77 

Boston Tea Party, 41 

Boudinot, Colonel Elias, 171, 185-87, 
206, 216-19, 340 

Bowler, Metcalf, 267, 276-77 

Bradbury, Solomon, 267 

branding, 128 

Brandy wine, 161 

Brant, Joseph, 269, 301 

Brattle Street, 9 

Breed's Hill, 83 

Brewer, Jonathan, 39, 52, 56-57 

Brewster, Caleb, 181, 237, 251, 364 

Bridgeton, N.J., 180 

Bridgetown, N.J., 180 

Brodhead, Colonel Daniel, 240 

Brookline, Mass., 52 

Brooklyn, N.Y., 111, 245 

Brooks, John, 86 

Brower, Nicholas, 136 

Brown, Edward, 335 

Brown, John, a spy, 300 

Brown, Lieutenant Colonel John, 288 

Brown, General Mumford, 147 

Brown, Captain William, 38-53, 59 

Browning, Blackman, 162 

Bruen, Captain Caleb, 248-249, 306, 

322, 326, 362 

Bryan, Alexander, 188-89 
Buckminster, Colonel Joseph, 45 
Budden, James, 326 
Buell, Dr. Samuel, 291 
Bunker, a Tory, 137 
Bunker Hill, 67, 70, 76, 82, 83, 88 
Burgin, Mrs. Elizabeth, 239 
Burgoyne, General John, 16, 22, 124- 

25, 148-53, 162, 188-89 
Bushnell, David, 85 
Butler, Colonel John, 158, 299, 301 
Butler, Colonel Zebulon, 298 
Butler's Rangers, 1 58 
Butter Hill, N.Y., 139 
Buttrick, Major, 66 

Cadwalader, Colonel John, 170 

Cadwalader House, 211 

Cambridge, Mass., 9, 14-15, 20, 26, 39, 

Cambridge, N.Y., 162 
Campbell, Alexander, 127 
Campbell, Captain, 150-51 
Canada, 18, 28-29, 90, 148, 152, 241, 

244, 245, 267, 357 
Cane, John, 245, 247, 266 
Carleton, General Sir Guy, 239, 245, 

248, 353 

Carlisle, Pa., 86, 269, 301 
Carmel, N.Y., 137 
Carnes, Captain, 307-09 
Carnes, John, 88 
Castle William, 35 
Cathcart, Lord, 176 
Catherine the Great, 125 
Cato f 120-21 
Centurion, H.M.S., 182 



Chambers, a traitor, 255-56 

Chambers, Captain Stephen, 206 

Champe, Sergeant Major John, 302-17, 
362, 363, 365 

Chandler's Hill, Mass., 43 

Chapin, Lieutenant Seth, 277-80 

chaplains, 107 

Chapman, Captain, 142 

Charles River, 9, 29, 66, 72 

Charleston, S.C., i 10, 262, 357 

Charlestown, Mass., 29, 39, 58, 66, 70 

Chase, Samuel, 268 

Chatham, N.J., 339, 341 

Chemung, N.Y., 297 

Chenango County, N.Y., 364 

Cherry Valley, N.Y., 295 

Chesapeake Bay, 317, 337, 343 

Chester, Pa., 224 

Chew, Joseph, 268 

Christ Church (Boston), 73 

Christiania Bridge, Del., 342 

Christmas raids, 170, 317 

Church, Dr. Benjamin, Jr., 10-20, 25- 
28, 74-75, 84-85, 88 

Church, Mrs. Benjamin, 22-23 

Church, Benjamin, Sr., 23 

Church, Thomas, 159 

cipher, 11-13, *7-*8, 29 

City Troop, 323, 325, 326 

Clark, General George Rogers, 240 

Clark, Major John, 173, 191-205 

Clark, Rev. Jonas, 73, 77 

Clark, Joseph, 267 

Claverack, N.Y., 144 

Clements Library, 34, 147 

Clinton, George, 11-12, 152-53 

Clinton, General Sir Henry: Arnold, 
Benedict, and, 281-83, 302-03, 312, 
361; artificers, 252-54; attack on 
Hudson forts, 125; Burgoyne and, 
149-53; Charleston, 110; deceived, 
190, 193, 242-43, 345-5 8 ; evacuates 
Philadelphia, 173, 223, 253; inks, se- 
cret, 230; intelligence service, 162, 
189-93, 281-96, 351-53; movements 
watched, 176, 223-24, 257; papers, 


Clinton, General James, 282 
dough, Major Alexander, 226 
Cobb, General David, 364 
code, 29, 148-153, 231-33, 269-70 
coffeehouses, 41, 228, 290 
Colvin, Patrick, 326 
Committee of Correspondence, 44-45, 

Committee of Safety, 139 

Committee of Secret Correspondence, 


Committee on Conspiracies, 124-127 
Conant, Colonel William, 70, 73, 74 
Concord, Mass., 28-29, 52-53, 63-66, 

73-74. 80, 356 
Concord, N.H., 36 
Concord River, 65 
Congaree River, 316 
Connecticut, 20, 267, 293 
Connecticut State Assembly, 293 
Connolly, Dr. John, 240 
Constitution, Fort, N.Y., 112, 163 
Continental Congress, 18-21, 27, 80, 

1 10, 179, 269, 293, 344 
converging maneuvers, 190 
Conyngham, David H., 325-26 
Cooper, James Fenimore, 136, 362 
Cooper, Mr., 203 
Corbie, William, 100-01 
Corbie's Tavern, 100 
Cork, John, 18 1, 243, 357 
Cornell, General Ezekiel, 278, 363 
Cornell; see Cornwill 
Cornwall, N.Y., 139 
Cornwallis, Charles, Earl, 174, 201, 220, 

316, 328-29, 337, 343-44 
Cornwill, Martin, 136 
Costigin, Lieutenant Lewis J., 174-77 
counterfeiting, 94-97, 101-02, 104 
counter-intelligence, 48-50, 69-72, 84, 

87, 128-43, 184-95, 200 
couriers, 64, 70, 73ff., 100, 148-53, 283, 

288-300, 322, 323 
Courtland Manor, N.Y., 125 
courts-martial, 19, 103-07, 119, 127-28, 

134-35, 146, 160 
Craig, Captain Charles, 196-98, 202-03 

209-10, 215 
Craig, Colonel, 215 
Cranbury, N.J., 268 

Crane, Lieutenant Colonel Jacob, 320 
Cregge, John, 252-53, 258 
Crosby, Enoch, 136-44, 171, 288-89, 

292, 362-63 
Crosswicks, N.J., 254 
Croton River, 130, 145, 350 
Cruikshank, Alexander, 124 
Culpers, 122, 227-40, 249-51, 290-9^, 

344> 345> 353 357* 364-65 
Cumberland County, Pa., 297 
Cummings, a traveler, 124 
Cunningham, William, 119-22 
currency, 96-97 
Curtis, Eleazar, 129, 134-35 
Curtis, Dr. Samuel, 48-49 



Curwen, Daniel, 148 
"cut-outs," 35, 88 

Banbury, Conn., 137, i6i-6e, 258, 260, 


Darby, Pa., 197 

Darragh, Lieutenant Charles, 211-12 
Darragh, Lydia, 206-21, 226, 365 
Darragh, William, 211-14 
Dartmouth, Earl of, 87 
Dartmouth, Mass., 17 
Davis, Edward, 128 

Davis, Joshua, 122, 237, 238, 292, 364 
Dawes, William, 41, 77, 80, 88 
Dawkins, Henry, 94-97, 101, 109 
Dayton, Colonel Elias, 177-81, 226, 274, 

3*7> 345 353 

De Berniere, Ensign Henry; see Ber- 

Deausonbury, John, 233-34 
De Grasse, Admiral; see Grasse, de 
De Lancey, Major Oliver, 247-48, 259, 

293' 325 

Delaware language, 296 
Delaware River, 159, 166, 182, 197, 199, 

225-26, 275, 341 
Demont, William, 282 
Denney, William, 136 
Derbage, George, 157 
Derbage, Mrs. George, 157 
Derby, Conn., 161 
deserters, American, 244-46, 260, 272, 

3> 303 308-17, 336, 34<5-47 346- 

50; British, 30, 48, 174, 258-60, 300, 

317, 356 

Detroit, 140, 269 
Devens, Richard, 79-80 
Dewkesbury, an agent, 88 
Diana, 279 

Dickinson, General Philemon, 190 
disguise, 37-40, 56, 119, 125-28, 253 
Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 257 
Donop, Colonel Carl von, 166 
Dorchester, Mass., 83, 90 
double agents, 194, 241-249, 281, 322, 

326, 353 

dragoons, 285, 335 
Drake, Peter, 130, 131 
Drake, Reuben, 131 
Drummond, Colonel Duncan, 253, 255, 

Dubois, Peter, 160 
Duchess of Gordon, H.M.S., 95, 99- 


Duer, Colonel William, 139-40, 171 
"dumb-bell" mask, 149, 150, 269 

Dunbar, Moses, 162, 361-62 
Dutchess County, N.Y., 334 

East Boston, Mass., 83 

East River, 119 

Easton, Pa., 260 

Edison, Thomas, 274-75 

Elderbeck, Manuel, 267 

Elizabeth, N.J., 179, 186, 320, 321, 323 

Elk River, 342 

Emerson, William, 30 

emetics, 152 

Emmett, Dr. Thomas, 292 

exchange of prisoners, 174-76, 327 

executions, 19-20, 107-09, 119-22, 125, 

132, 147-48, 159-62, 166, 182, 271-75, 

304-05* 353 

Fairfield, Conn., 237, 251 

Fairfield County, Conn., 162 

Far, Lent, 133 

Ferguson, Robert, 267, 276-77 

Fields, Benjamin, 132 

fishermen spies, 88-89 

Fishkill, N.Y., 138, 288 

Fitzrandolph; see Randolph 

Fleming, Mrs. John, 27 

Florida, N.Y., 271 

Floyd, Colonel, 236 

Floyd's Neck, attack on, 251 

Flucker, Thomas, 25 

Flushing, LX, 351 

Forbes, Gilbert, 103-05 

forgery, 87 

Forman, General David, 181, 239, 357 

Forty Fort, Pa., 158 

Fox, Edward, 268-69 

Framingham, Mass., 44, 45, 47 

France, 81, 91, 92, 163 

Frankford, Pa., 198, 209 

Franklin, Benjamin, 86, 220 

Franklin, Sir William, 158 

Fraunces, Samuel, 290 

Fraunces Tavern, 289 

Fredericksburgh, 260 

Freemasons, 254 

French and Indian War, 92 

French language, 28-30 

French spies, 81, 90-92, 236-37, 356 

Fretenborough, a Tory, 130 

Frost, Elijah, 136 

Fiirstner, Andrew, 298-99 

Gage, General Thomas, 11-20, 25-28, 
37-42, 48, 50, 55-59, 62-66, 70-74, 84- 
87, 164 



Gage, Mrs. Thomas, 76-77 

galleys, 311 

Galloway, Joseph, 86, 158-59 

Gardiner, Colonel Abraham, 291 

Gardiner, John Lyon, 291 

Gates, General Horatio, 188-90, 224, 

*39> 2 57 

Gaultier, Andrew, 320, 322 
George III, 17, 65, 124, 129, 354 
Georgia Secret Committee, 87 
German spies, 119 

German troops, 172, 174, 207, 278-80 
German town, Pa., 199-200, 220 
Gerry, Elbridge, 17-18, 79-80 
Gibson, Private, 75 
Gist, Christopher, 220 
Gold, Harry, 253 
Golden Ball Tavern, 41, 45, 50 
Goodwin, a spy, 89 
Goshen, N.Y., 85, 341 
Gould, Joseph, 268, 319-20 
Gove, a Tory, 35, 66 
Grant, General James, 176, 259 
Grasse, Admiral de, 337, 346 
Graves, Admiral Thomas, 32, 72-74, 79, 

Gray, Captain David, 244-49, 333> 35 2 " 


Great Nine Partners Mine, 133 
Green, William, 104-05 
Green Boys, 206-08 
Green Dragon Tavern, 69 
Greene, General Nathanael, 15, 102, 

203, 224, 239, 289, 302, 316-17 
Greenglass, Ruth and Harry, 253 
Greenwich, Conn., 85 
grenadiers, 73 

Grey, General "No Flint," 220 
Griffin, a patriot, 145 
Griggstown, N.J., 167 
Groton, Fort, Conn., 248 
guard boats, 316 
gunsmiths, 57, 59-60, 66 
Gustavus; see Arnold, Benedict 

Hackensack, N.J., 341, 342 

Haddam, Conn., 113 

Haines, John, 136, 142 

Haldimand, General Sir Frederick, 29, 

50-51, 241 

Hale, Enoch, 121-22 
Hale, Nathan, 110-22, 152, 364 
Hale, Rose, 115 
Hale, Samuel, 113 
Haliburton, Dr. John, 267, 333 
Halifax, N.S., 90, 95, 357 

Halifax, H.M.S., 118 

Hall, John, 28-29 

Hamilton, Captain Alexander, 119, 228 

Hamilton, George, 341 

Hamilton, Henry, 140 

Hammill, Major Daniel, 282 

Hancock, John, 25, 73, 79-80 

Hand, General Edward, 279 

handwriting, 35, 229, 312 

Handy, Silvester, 143 

hangings; see executions 

Hare, Lieutenant Henry, 271 

Harlem Heights, N.Y., 115, 351 

Hart, Amsey, 134 

Hartford, Conn., 37, 162, 246, 334 

Hartford, East, Conn., 335 

Harton, Ewerd, 14 

Hartwick, John, 156 

Harvard College Library, 34 

Harwich, Mass., 137 

Hatfield, Abel, 243 

Hatfield, Moses, 243 

Haverstraw Mountain, 273 

Hawkins, Zechariah, 161 

Hazard, Thomas, 267 

Hazen, General Moses, 262 

Head of Elk, Md., 343 

Headwater, a Virginian, 354-56 

Heard, Lieutenant John, 202 

Heath, General William, 22, 93, 107, 


Hegel, Carl, 279 
Hegel, Gertrude, 279-80 
Hempstead, Sergeant Stephen, 114-15, 

Hendricks, Captain Baker, 179, 180, 

222-23, 2 43 

Hendricks, John, 179, 222-23, 243 
Heron, William, 292-94, 341 
Hessians, 168-74, 279-80, 284, 338 
Hewes, George Robert Twelves, 89 
Hichborne, a spy, 90 
Hickey, Thomas, 101-09 
Hicks, Gershom, 296-98, 360 
Higby, Dr. Moses, 152 
Higday, George, 232-33 
Highlands, N.Y., 98, 267 
Hiram, the Spy; see Heron, William 
Hoag, Enoch, 143 
Hoboken, N.J.,3i6 
Hodgkiss; see Hoskiss 
Hog Island, 83 
Holbrook, Abraham, 71 
Honeyman, John, 166-70 
Hopewell, N.J., 170 
Hopkins, a spy, 89 



Hopkins, Samuel, 136 

Horseneck (Greenwich), Conn., 357 

Hoskiss, S., 131 

hospitals, 351-52 

Howard, General, 166 

Howe, John, 54-67, 80, 360-61 

Howe, Admiral Lord Richard, 98, no, 

Howe, General Robert, 194, 239, 242, 

Howe, General Sir William: attacks 
expected, 124-25; Darby, Pa., at, 197; 
deceived, 191-93; Hale execution, 
119; headquarters, 193, 212; intel- 
ligence service, 22, 35-36, 158-59, 164, 
185-87, 190-92; Lafayette and, 224; 
New England plan, 124-25; New 
York, 110-11; recruits for, 128, 137 
ff.; resignation, 223; warrants, 127 

Hudson Valley, 95, 98, 123, 144, 190, 
267, 329 

Hughson, Syivanus, 269 

Hull, Sergeant Jeremiah, 247 

Hull, Captain William, 113, 122 

Humphreys, General David, 146-47, 

3*7 347-5<>> 364 
Hunt, Colonel, 334 
Hunt, John, 127 
Hunter, Captain Elijah, 194, 241-43, 


Huntington, L.L, 95, 247 
Huson, a Tory, 132-33 
Hutchinson, Thomas, 24 

Independence Hall, 275 

Indian raids, 357 

Indian spies, 127 

infantry, light, 32, 73, 350 

ink, secret, 34, 113, 228-31, 233-34 

Innis, Colonel James, 337 

inoculation, 144 

intelligence, false, 134 

intelligence nets, uo-ii, 165-82 

irons, 140, 273 

Iroquois, 224, 295 

Irvine, General William, 157 

Jackson, a spy, 243 
Jacobs, William, 267 
Jagger, L, 342 
James, a spy, 260 
James River, 317 

Jameson, Lieutenant Colonel John, 

?ay, Sir James, 113, 229 
ay, John, 113, 137, 138-44, 229, 292 

J-B-, 239 

J.C., 181 

Jefferson, Thomas, 17, 140 

Jericho Swamp, 61 

Jersey Brigade, 275 

Jersey City, N.J., 255, 307, 348 

"Jesse," 180 

John, a batman, 39, 40, 46, 51-52 

Johnson, Colonel Guy, 161 

Jones, Captain, 247 

Jones, Edward, 271-72 

Jones, Captain Isaac, 41-42, 50, 58-62 

Jones Tavern (Concord), 32 

Jones (Worcester innkeeper), 42-44 

Kearsley, Dr. John, 86 

Kemble, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen, 


Kent, Conn., 137 

Ketcham, Isaac, 97, 98, 104, 105, 109 
kidnaping, 85, 98-101, 159, 272, 302-17, 

323-24, 335 

Kinderhook, N.Y., 148 
King John, 76 

Kingsbridge, N.Y., 18, 98, 337, 348 
King's Ferry, 339 
Kingston, N.Y., 324 
Kingston, R.I., 267 
Kinner; see Pinner 
Kip, moon-curser, 108 
Kipple, 279 

Knowlton, Colonel Thomas, 112 
Knowlton's Rangers, 112 
Knyphausen, General Baron Wilhelm 

von, 194, 274, 317 

laborers, 56 

"Lady's Dress," 234 

Lafayette, Marquis de, 197, 224, 235, 

236, *57> 33> 337-3^, 362 
Lake George, 244 
Lamb, Colonel John C., 273 
Lancaster, Pa., 51 
lanterns, 73-79 
Larkin, John, 80 
Latourette, Paul, 181 
Lauderdale, Earl of, 361 
Laurel Hill, N.Y., 348 
Lauzun, Due de, 341 
Lawrenceville, N.J., 325 
Leary, William, 102 
Leavenworth, Captain EH, 227 
Leclyard, Colonel William, 244, 247-48 
Lee, Captain Andrew, 262-65 
Lee, General Charles, 16, 84, "281 
Lee, Fort, N.J., 336 



Lee, Lieutenant Colonel Henry, 303- 

16, 363 

Leicester, Mass., 39 
Lenox, Mass., 244 
Leslie, General, 166 
letter frequencies, 17-18 
letters, suspicious, 86 
Levering, Jacob, 207-08 
Levering, John, 207-08 
Levinus, Thomas, 132-33 
Lewis, a Tory, 335 
Lexington, Mass., 16, 21, 31-32, 53, 65, 

80-81, 356 

Likely, John, 128-30, 134-35 
Lincoln, General Benjamin, 264, 341 
Lincoln, Mass., 66 
Linonian Society, 121 
Litchfield, Conn., 364 
"Littel, D.," 180 
Little Compton, R.I., 277 
Livingston, William, in, 207, 223, 


Livingston's Manor, N.Y., 148 
LJ-, 238 

Lloyd, Sergeant, 181 
Lloyd's Neck, L.I., 334, 348 
Lomaree; see Lounsbury 
London, 86, 91, 158 
London espionage, 20, 220 
Long, Thomas, 182-83 
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 9, 74 
Long Island, 95, 98, 110-13, 122, 227- 

38, 247, 257, 339, 349-58 
Long Island Sound, 181, 237, 334 
Loring, Mrs. Joshua, 223 
Lossing, Benson }., 116 
Loudon County, Va., 305, 313 
Lounsbury, Valentine, 130, 132 
Lovell, James, 28, 32, 88-89 
Lovell, John, 32 
Loxley House, 211 

Luce, Captain William, 157, 186-87 
Ludlum, George, 112 
Ludwick, Christopher, 172, 207, 339 
Lynch, Michael, 102-09 
Lynn, Mass., 89 
Lyon, John, 162 

Mabie, Simon, 127 

Macfarlan, Robert, 322, 324, 326 

MacFarlane, Samuel, 125 

Mackenzie, Major Frederick, 325 

Maidenhead, N.J., 325 

Manayunk, Pa., 207 

Manhattan, 110, 116-19, 122, 124, 144, 

3S7-5 8 

33> 38-4t>> 55> 159* 299-300, 357 
Marblehead, Mass., 37, 39 
marines, 32, 67, 207 
Marks, John, 251 
Marks, Nehemiah, 249-51, 335-36 
Marlboro, Mass., 45-47, 62-64 
Marlboro, N.Y., 139 
Marquard, Captain, 335, 336 
Marr, Laurence, 275 
Mascoll, Lawrence, 1 1 1 
masks, see code 
Mason, James, 102 
Mason, John, 255, 322-26 
Massachusetts Provincial Congress, 11, 

15, 20, 27, 34, 53 
Matthews, David, 98, 100, 102-03 
Maxwell, Adam, 13 
Maxwell, General William, 194 
Maybe, Peter, 127 
McDale, John, 125 
McDougall, General Alexander, 130, 

131, 134,239,241 
McKean, Thomas, 344 
McKenny, Arthur, 127 
McLane, Major Allan, 198, 210, 214- 

15, 20, 27, 34, 53 
McMahon, Barnabash, 340 
medical officers, 15-16, 19, 21-22, 152, 


Meeker, John, 179, 181, 224 
Menotomy (Arlington), Mass., 37, 79, 


Mercer, Fort, N.J., 199-202 
Mercer, General Hugh, 11, 165 
Mercury, H.M.S., 146 
Mersereau, John, the younger, 174, 

*77~79> 194-95* 277, 364 
Mersereau, John, the elder, 180-81, 

i94-95> 345* 364 

Mersereau, Joshua, 177-78, 345, 364 
Mersereau, Paul, 179 
Mersereau family, 123 
Metropolitan Museum, 276 
Metuchen, N.J., 180 
Midagh, Jacob, 127-28 
Middlebrook, N.J., 339 
Middleton, Cornet, 309-11 
Middletown, Conn., 335 
Middletown, N.J., 261 
Middletown, R.I., 277, 363 
Mifflin, Fort, Pa., 199-201 
Mifflin, General Thomas, 173, 183, 198 
Miller, Dr., 140-41 
mines, 129, 133 
Minot, George, 90 
minutemen, 248 


Mitchell, Major, 80 
Monmouth, N.J., 226, 346 
Montgomery, Fort, N.Y., 127, 138, 151, 

Montresor, Captain John, 116, 119-20, 


monuments to spies, 364 
Moody, James, 140, 157-158, 267, 272- 

75^ 3 61 

Moody, John, 267 

Moore, John; see Arnold, Benedict 
morale, 70 

Morehouse, Colonel Andrew, 143 
Morgan, Charles, 337-38 
Morgan, General Daniel, 219, 257 
Morris, Robert, 170 
Morristown, N.J., 171, 184-86, 239, 267, 

339 35 6 

Morrisville, Pa., 325 
Mount Ephraim, N.J., 142 
Mount Holly, N.J., 180 
Mount Sinai, L.I., 251 
Mount Vernon, 343 
Moylan's Dragoons, 333 
Mulligan, Hercules, 240-41, 258, 344, 

345> 35 8 > 364 
Muncy, Pa., 294-95, 301 
munitions, 32, 37-38, 53, 73 
muskets, price of, 31-32 
mutiny, 318-27 
Mystic, Mass., 37, 84 

Nassau Hall, 323 

naval intelligence, 88, 163-64, 159, 228, 

335> 353* 357 

Navy, French, 255, 335, 343 
Navy, Royal, 14, 85, 91-92, 98, 310-11, 

343> 348-49. 353 
Navy, U.S., 99, 163 
Neff, Captain, 350 
Negroes, 40, 56-57, 60-62, 65, 100, 148, 

260, 268, 306 
Nelson, William, 267 
Neptune, H.M.S., 322-23 
Newall, Simon, 128-34 
Newark, N.J., 248, 267, 306, 355-56, 


New Brunswick (Canada), 361 
New Brunswick, N.J., 169, 174-75, 339 
Newburgh, N.Y., 152 
Newell's Tavern, 79 
Newfield, Conn., 335 
New Hampshire, 35, 244 
New Haven, Conn., 161 
New London, 244-47, 352-53 
Newman, Robert, 77-78 

Newport, R.I., 11-14. 85, 235-36, 267, 

277-78, 283, 333 
New Rochelle, N.Y., 112 
Newtown, Conn., 162 
New Windsor, N.Y., 152, 335 
New York City, 123-25, 222-55, 316, 

345> 357 

New York Gazette, 228 
New York Provincial Congress, 94, 101 
New York Public Library, 293 
New York State Library, 362 
Niagara, Fort, 158, 297 
Nicoll, Colonel Isaac, 1 1 2 
Nine Partners Mine, 129, 133 
Noddle's Island, 83 
North Castle, N.Y., 260 
North, Lord, 85 
North Point, R.I., 278 
Northumberland, Pa., 296 
Norwalk, Conn., 115 

Oaks, Samuel, 360 

Odell, Jonathan, 266-67 

Ogden, Captain Aaron, 303 

Ogden, Gilbert, 260 

Ogden, James, 323-26 

Ogden, Colonel Matthias, 175, 243 

Oisboden, Dr., 140-41 

Old Man's, L.I., 251 

Old North Church, 73, 74, 79 

opiates, 140-41 

order of battle, 335 

Osborn, Andrew S., 229 

Oyster Bay, L.I., 227, 290 

Paddock, Major Adino, 71 

Palmer, Edmund, 144-48 

Paoli Massacre, 197 

paper industry, 97 

Paramos, N.J., 255, 339 

Parcel, Swain, 243-44 

pardons, 141-42 

Parker, John, 178 

Parsons, General Samuel H., 103, 281, 

292-94> 34* 

Partisan Legion, 312, 317 
Patchen, Andrew, 271 
Patten, Abraham, 166 
Patterson, Colonel William, 297 
Paulus Hook (Jersey City), 255, 307, 


Pawling, N.Y., 142 
Peckham, Peleg, 278 
peddlers, 253 


Peekskill, N.Y., 127, 132, 138, 146-48, 

Penfield's "tide mill," 237 

Philadelphia: Arnold, General Bene- 
dict in, 253-54; Congress, 80; de- 
fenses, 197, 223-25; evacuation, 173, 
224-26, 253; occupation, 124, 159, 
173, 182-83; paper industry, 97; ship- 
ping, 262; spies in, 18, 86, 252, 260- 
61, 267, 275, 343, 363; Valley Forge 
and, 206 

Philadelphia, H.M.S., 323 

Philadelphia Light Horse, 323, 325, 

Phillipstown, Conn., 137 

Pike's Hill, N.Y., 267 

Pinner, Jonathan, 237 

Pitcairn, Major John, 32, 67, 74-75 

Pitcher, Benjamin, 136 

Pitt, Fort, 240, 269 

Pittsburgh, Pa., 240 

Plymouth, Mass., 39 

Pollock, Oliver, 176, 345 

Pompton, N.J., 273, 339, 340 

Pond, Captain Charles, 115 

Port Jefferson, L.I., 251 

Porter, Colonel Elisha, 17-18 

Portsmouth raid, 70 

Potter, General James, 202-03 

Potts, John, 160 

prayers, troops at, 83 

Prescott, Dr. Samuel, 80 

Price, Captain, 26 

Princeton, N.J., 170-71, 322-24, 339 

prisoners, 171, 178, 239, 262-64, 323-26, 


Proesser, Dr., 143 
prostitution, 108-09 
Providence, R.I., 278 
Province House, 76 
Pennsylvania troops, 209, 253, 296 
Pennypacker, Morton W., 229 
Penobscot, M., 51 
Pensacola, Fla., 345 
Percy, Lord, 31, 76, 8 1 
Petersburg, Va., 316 
Pulaski, Count Casimir, 271 
Pulling, John, 77-78 
Purple Heart, Order of the, 348, 361-62 
Putnam, Israel, 9-10, 84, 128, 146-48, 

171, 191, 258, 271-72 

Quakers, 132, 158, 173, 182, 191, 206- 

21, 267, 359 

Quarme, Lieutenant William, 118 
quartermasters, 244, 352, 353, 362 

Queen's Rangers, 284 

Rahway, N.J., 182 

Rail, Colonel Johann, 166 

Randolph, Asher Fitz, 181 

Rankin, Colonel William, 299, 361 

rations, 255-57, 343, 353 

Rattoon John, 283, 323, 360 

Rawdon, Lord, 216 

Raynham Hall, 290 

Redbank, see Fort Mercer 

Redding, Conn., 271, 292 

Redfield, Abigail, 237 

Reed, Joseph, 20, 171, 300, 323 

Revere, Paul: 16; doubts Church, 26; 
spy ring, 25, 41, 68-81, 88, no; en- 
graving equipment, 88; ride, 79-81; 
arrest, 80 

Revere, Rachel, 88 

Rhinebeck, N.Y., 148 

Rhode Island, 12, 32, 236, 257, 267, 

Richmond, N.Y., 363 

Ridgefield, Conn., 271 

Riedesel, General Baron von, 334 

riflemen, 220 

Rinker, "Mom," 208 

Rising Sun Tavern, 214-17 

Rivington, James, 228, 290, 358 

Roberts, George, 226 

Robertson, General James, 124, 302 

Robinson, Captain, 247 

Robinson, Colonel Beverly, 129, 163, 
245, 266, 335 

Robinson, Commissioner, 26 

Robinson, Thomas, 160 

Rochambeau, Comte de, 235-36, s86, 


Roe, Austin, 228, 235-36, 364-65 

Roe, Nathaniel, 250 

Roe, Philip, 251 

Rogers 's Rangers, 162 

Rome, George, 12 

Romers, John, 255 

Rose, H.M.S., 12, 85, 99, 267, 276 

Rose, Jacobus, 127-28 

Rose, Sr., William, 163 

Rosenberg, Julius, 253 

Ross, Captain Zebulon, Jr., 143 

Round Meadow, L.L., 250 

Rowley, Captain Robert, 352-53 

Roxbury, Mass., 83 

Rumford, Count; see Thompson, Ben- 

Russian troops, 125, 161 



sabotage, 70-72 

Sackett, Nathaniel, 136, 142, 171-74, 292 

Saddle River, 274 

St. Clair, General Arthur, 304, 315 

St. John's, siege of, 244 

safe houses, 261, 264 

Sakonnet River, 277-78 

Salem, Mass., 31, 37 

Saltonstall, Gilbert, 21 

Sandy Hook, 339, 342, 348 

Saur, Christopher, 299 

Savage, Captain, 100 

Savage, H.M.S., 95 

Sawmill River, 335 

Say brook, Conn., 85 

Scarborough, H.M.S., 35 

Schamniel, Colonel, 350 

schoolteachers, 115, 252 

Schuyler, 115 

Schuylkill River, 207, 209-10, 219 

Scott, Captain, 148 

Scott, General Charles, 107, 226-27, 258, 

secret communication, 128, 148-53, 228- 

33, 247, 268-69, 352-53 
Sergeant's Arms, 100 
Setauket, L.I., 227, 228, 250 
Seymour, Conn., 347 
S.G., 239 

Shakespeare, William, 76 
Shanks, Thomas, 159-60 
Shawnee language, 296 
Sheldon, Colonel Elisha, 285, 335 
Shippen, Margaret, 282, 283, 287, 301, 


Shoemaker, Samuel, 267 
Shooter's Island, 178 
Shrewsbury, Mass., 44 
Shrewsbury, N.J., 178 
signals, 73-79, 175, 228, 277-79 
"silver bullet," 151-52 
Simcoe, Lieutenant Colonel John 

Graves, 284, 290-91 
Simsbury, Conn., 109 
Sinclair, Alexander, 100 
Skene, Major Philip, 162 
Skinner, Cortlandt, 154-57, 1 94 2 43 


Skinner, Mrs. Cortlandt, 157 
slaves, 260, 268, 306 
Smith, a deserter, 260 
Smith, Lieutenant Colonel Francis, 31, 

3.3. 55-57' 6*' 66 ' 6 7> 80-81 
Smith, "Jeams," 250 
Smith, Joel, 58, 59 
Smith, Joseph, 100 

Smith, Robert, 210 

Smithwick, Captain, 22-23 

Soldier's Fortune, 233 

Somerset, H.M.S., 77-79 

Southeast, N.Y., 137, 362 

South River, N.J., 323 

Spencer, General Joseph, 107 

spies: American, 68-81, 87-91, 110-22 
128-44, 163-251, 277-80, 300-27, 337- 
3 8 345-5^ 362-65; atom, 253; Brit- 
ish, 10-66, 74-75, 81-88, 98-109, 123- 
64, 185-97, 2 ^6, 276, 281-301, 318-43, 
358-62; double, 194, 241-49, 281, 322, 
326, 353; fishermen as, 88-89; French, 
81, 90-92, 236-37, 356; lack of, 111- 
12; peddlers, 253; Quakers, 132, 
211 ff., 363; schoolteachers as, 115, 
252; women as, 123, 173, 198, 203, 
252-65, 361; see also individual 

Sprague, Lieutenant James, 112 

Springfield, Mass., 15-16, 57, 59 

Spuyten Duyvil, 163 

Spy, The, 136, 362 

"Squib," a spy, 340 

Stansbury, Joseph, 294-96 

Stark, General John, 162 

Staten Island, 103, 110, 122, 177-80, 

37 343, 354 

Stephen, General Adam, 171 
Stevens, Thomas, 156 
Stewart, Charles, 274 
Stirling, Lord, 107, 157, 175, 239 
Stony Point, N.Y., 267 
Stormont, Lord, 163 
Strang, Daniel, 126-27, 131-32 
Strang, Captain Henry, 145-46 
Stratford, Conn., 335 
strength reports, 18, 82-83, 185-86, 242- 

43> 254-55 
submarines, 85 
Suckasanna, N.J., 272 
Sudbury, Mass., 46, 50 
Sudbury River, 61 
Suffern, N.J., 339 
"Sugar House" Prison, 327 
Sullivan, General John, 31, 269, 272, 


Summer Seat, 325 
Sunbury, Pa., 298, 299 
Susquehanna River, 269, 294-96, 362 
Sussex Court House, 274 
Sutherland, Sergeant William, 159-60 
Swain, British drummer, 48 
Swift, Colonel Hem an, 346 



Taggart, William, 278-80 

Tallmadge, Major Benjamin, 216, 227- 

33^ 236-37, 243, 284-87, 345, 357 
Tappan, N.Y., 356 
Tapthorp, Mr., 14 
tar and feathers, 38, 60 
Tarlton, Colonel Banastre, 242, 338 
taverns, 32, 39-42, 45, 50, 56-68, 69, 79, 

81, 214-17, 289 
tax collectors, 156 
Taylor, Daniel, 144, 151-53 
tea, 41-42, 61 
Teller's Point, N.Y., 163 
Thacher, Dr. James, 341 
Thomas, Isaac, 5 1 
Thompson, Benjamin, 33-36 
Thompson, Mrs. Benjamin, 36 
Thomson, Robert, 162 
Three Pigeons, N.J., 310 
Ticonderoga, N.Y., 124, 161, 244 
Tilghman, Lieutenant Colonel Tench, 


Tioga County, N.Y., 364 

Tiverton, R.I., 278 

tokens, recognition, 253, 261 

Tompkins, Thomas, 335 

Tories: Arnold and, 302; armed bands, 
99, i37ff.; Bennington, Vt., 141; 
chain of, 244; Church, Dr. Ben- 
jamin and, 25-26; innkeepers, 41-45, 
50; militia, 126; Newport, R.I., 12- 
14, 267, 276-77; Philadelphia, 200; 
plots, 98-109, 159, 299-301; Sharon, 
Conn., 141; taverns, 41-45, 50; Wes- 
ton, Mass., 41-44; Worcester, Mass., 

Townsend, James, 233 

Townsend, Robert; see Culper, Jr. 

Townsend, Sarah, 290-91 

trading with enemy, 125, 179-80, 203, 
222, 241 

traitors, 84, 101-09, 182-83, 254-56, 260, 

Treadwell, George, 112 

Treasury, 268 

Trenton, N.J., 166-71, 174, 342 

Trinity College, 162 

truce, flags of, 16-17, 127, 293, 356 

Trumbull, Jonathan, 20, 21 

Tryon, William, 85, 99, 146, 161, 176, 
241, 269 

Tuers, Mrs. Nicholas, 289 

Tupper, Colonel Benjamin, 156 

Umaman, Anthony, 130, 135 

uniforms, 92, 115, 152, 176, 262, 284, 
334 339^ 355-57' 3^i, 3 6 4 

Valley Forge, 159, 196, 206, 226, 256 
Vandeput, Captain, 99 
Vanderhovan, Cornelius, 180 
Vanderhovan, Elizabeth, 180 
Vanderhovan, John, 180, 243, 304 
Van Dyke, Francis, 239 
Van Gaasbeek, Captain Peter, 142-43 
Van Ripen, Janetje, 289 
Vanvleek, Isaac, 152-53 
Vassall House, 9 
Vermont, 162, 245, 246, 267 
Verplanck's Point, N.Y., 146, 267 
Viele, Arnout, 127 
Virginia, 10, 348 

Wainwood, Godfrey; see Wenwood 

Walker, Patrick, 251 

Wall, Jesse, 166 

Wallace, Captain Sir James, 12, 85, 99, 
267, 276 

Wallace, William, 125-26 

Wallis, Samuel, 158, 294-302, 359-60 

War of 1812,56,360-61 

Ward, Henry, 15 

Ward, Thomas, 267, 325 

Warren, James, 20-21 

Warren, Dr. Joseph, 69-70, 88 

Washington, General George: Andre 
and, 287-89; Arnold and, 283, 288ff., 
3O2ff.; assassination, 98-99; Cam- 
bridge, arrival in, 15-16; Church, Dr. 
and, 9-20; deceives enemy, 184-95, 
236, 241-49, 339-4' 343 dukedom, 
281; headquarters, 256-58, 336; Hicks, 
Gershom, and, 295-96; kidnap plot, 
98-101; movements reported, 84, 256, 
334-35; poison plot, 98-99; Stansbury, 
Joseph, and, 295-96; Sullivan ex- 
pedition, 295-96 

Washington, Martha, 89 

Water Street, Pa., 296 

Watertown, Mass., 39, 50, 56, 57, 62 

Wayne, General Anthony, 197, 239, 273 

Webb's Regiment, 114, 152 

Wenwood, Godfrey, 11-15 

West, Rev. Samuel, 17-18 

Westchester County, 98, 144-46, 190, 


West Mountain, 140 
West Point, 163, 266-67, 283-89, 303 
Weston, Mass., 41, 45, 50, 64 
Wether by 's Tavern, 79 
Wethersfield, Conn., 121 



whaleboats, 83, 181, 237, 242, 364 
Wharton, Thomas, 209 
Wheaton, a Tory, 60-61 
Whitcuff, Benjamin, 268 
Whitemarsh, Pa., 197, 203, 207-20 
White Plains, N.Y., 137, 138, 254, 336, 


Whitestone, L.I., 349 
Wilkes-Barre, Pa., 158, 297, 362 
Wilkinson, William, 278, 363 
Willettstown, N.J., 323 
Williams, Henry, 151-52 
Williams, Sergeant, 323, 325 
Williamsburg, Va., 337, 343 
Williamson, Wynot, 334 
Willis, Fort, 298 
Windsor, Conn., 346, 364 
Wissahickon Creek, 206-08, 262 
Woburn, Mass., 33, 35, 80 
Wolcott, General Oliver, 128-29 
Wolfe, General James, 168 
women agents, 123, 173, 198, 203, 252- 

65, 361 

Wooden, Henry, 136 
Woodhull, Samuel; see Culper, Sr. 

Woodruff, Uzal, 268, 324-25 
Worcester, Mass., 37-39, 42-45, 55, 62- 

63, 130 

World War II, 119 
Wright, Asher, 113, 115 
Wright, James, 87 
Wurmb, Lieutenant Colonel L.J.A. 

von, 340 

Wyllys, Major John Palsgrave, 121-22 
Wyoming, Fort, Pa., 269, 271, 297, 362 
Wyoming Massacre, 158, 255-56, 295, 


Yale University, 115, 121 
York, Pa., 205, 326, 363 
York River, 337 
Yorktown, N.Y., 145 
Yorktown, Va., 92, 328-44 
Young, "Esquire," 137-38 
Youngs, Isaac, 95-97, 101 
Youngs, Israel, 95-97, 101 

Zedwitz, Lieutenant Colonel Herman, 

"Z" reports, 176-77 

1 1 8 652